Despite the progress we’ve made over the past decade, mental health in men continues to be a taboo subject. Men often don’t seek help, even if they struggle with anxiety, depression, sadness or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
According to statistics gathered by The Mental Health Foundation, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem. Perhaps worse still, three times as many men as women die by suicide.
We need to stand up against this crisis and ensure that the men in our lives get the help and support they need.
Why don’t men talk about mental health problems?
Mental health problems affect us all, but men find it harder to seek the support they need when they are struggling.
One of the biggest reasons for this is the stigma associated with mental health problems. Men believe they’re expected to be ‘the strong one’. They believe that they shouldn’t show emotions and that they should just deal with whatever they are feeling.
They also tend to feel ashamed about the way they’re coping and see themselves as being weak, vulnerable or worthless because of the way they feel. The fact that they aren’t living the glamorous lives they see filling their Instagram or Facebook feeds only makes matters worse. This means they’re even less willing to open up.
Often this is because they feel that they don’t have a mental health problem. What they’re feeling ‘isn’t too bad’ and they can just deal with it themselves. Besides, they don’t want to be a burden, don’t want to bore people with their feelings and don’t want to be judged.
What are the symptoms of depression in men?
Symptoms of depression in men tend to be harder to spot because of the way men are often expected to manage and express their emotions.
If you are a man struggling with mental health problems, you might notice that you:
● Feel unhappy, depressed or unmotivated (especially first thing in the morning)
● Feel hopeless, pessimistic
● Can’t enjoy anything, even things you used to love
● Start avoiding people and lose touch with friends
● Can’t concentrate
● Struggle with your energy levels
● Feel worthless or guilty about things that have nothing to do with you
● Have problems sleeping
● Lose interest in sex
● Comfort eat or stop eating
● Start to experience thoughts of self-harm or suicide
If you start to experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts that people would be better off without you, contact a professional for help.
You might notice a man changes his behaviour when struggling with mental health problems. This could include;
● Irritability or anger
● Risk-taking (including gambling, risky sexual behaviour, etc.)
● Use of drugs or alcohol
● Loss of control
● Quieter and withdrawn than normal
● Lack of care with personal appearance (don’t shave, wash hair or look after clothes)
● Making mistakes at work or unable to focus
● Complaining more about physical problems
Get support with your mental health problems
If you’re a man experiencing mental health problems, however small, it’s important to share how you are feeling with others.
Often, simply releasing the burden can help you feel better. Contact a trusted friend or relative and be honest about how you’re feeling. Despite your worries about being judged, you’ll usually be met with great understanding and support.
You can also come into your local branch of Whitworths and ask for a confidential chat with the pharmacist. We can help guide you towards the support that you need.
Supporting a man with mental health problems
If you’re concerned about your partner, a friend or a relative, you can help them in many ways.
● Stay in touch with regular text or phone messages.
● Let them know that you’re there to listen.
● Find out about local support groups, talking therapy or mental health communities online.
● Help them get the help they need, especially if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts. This might include contacting their GP or going along with them to an appointment.
Whether you’re the one suffering from a mental health problem or you know someone else who is, it’s important not to suffer in silence. Reach out and get the support you need so you can start feeling better.