Whilst women are far more likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses, we are seeing more and more frequent indicators that many more men are facing mental health issues. 76% of suicides are men, with it being the biggest cause of death for those under 35. Men are also 3 times more likely to become dependent on #Alcohol and 73% of 'missing' adults are men. When one considers such statistics, it seems that many men are suffering from mental distress and yet are undiagnosed and not getting the support they need. The topic of mental health is already surrounded by stigma and this is perhaps even more of an issue for male sufferers. Phrases such as 'man up' and 'stop being a girl' are proving extremely damaging, demonstrating to men that being open about their emotions jeopardises their masculine status. This is therefore resulting in men having to suffer in silence as they feel unable to discuss their feelings.
The problems start from a young age
The social construct of gender is something that is engrained within us from a very young age, as young boys are taught that showing emotion is a feminine attribute, where as to be a 'man' it is a case of having to 'grin and bear it'. This means that men are growing up feeling as if they do not have a support base and they cannot turn to friends and family for emotional guidance. Mental health issues such as depression and therefore far harder to diagnosed in men as they are less likely to discuss the mental trauma. It is not until the symptoms become physical that men seem to be seeking support.
Middle-aged men are at the most risk
Age and socioeconomic factors play a huge part in the suicide rates amongst men. Middle aged men today are facing difficulties, stuck between the pre-war and post-war generation, meaning they are torn between the silent, 'stiff upper lip' mentality and the more progressive generation many children are being brought up on today. On top of this, long term decisions reveal themselves which means that middle-aged men can feel very trapped and unable to alter the route their life has taken.
In order to break this cycle it is vital that we reconsider our constructs of gender and what it means to be a man. Mental health issues can impact anyone at any point in their lives and we all need some sort of support at some point in our lives, regardless of gender. Whether this be talking to a friend or family member or seeking professional support, no one should be made to feel ashamed. Seeking support it not a sing of weakness and everyone should feel comfortable and able to seek the support they feel they need. #Medicine #Parenting