Although women are statistically known to suffer more from mental illness, men are more likely to commit suicide. Men are also more likely to struggle with (or die from) drug and alcohol abuse.
Why? The answer lies in how men see mental illness.
A lot of guys hate to admit they have a mental health challenge because of their idea of masculinity. They see depression as a sign of weakness.
However, having a mental issue isn’t a sign of weakness. In many ways, mental illness is just like diabetes, or any other physical condition.
Sadly, many people still see mental health struggles as a lack of personal fortitude. As a result, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness and with men, this is worse. There is this extra pressure always to be strong so many struggle to admit they need help.
Many men also experience shame and guilt and this could lead to them being less willing to ask for help.
Unfortunately, when men are less willing to ask for help, drugs and alcohol are often abused.
So, how do we change men’s perception of seeking help before things get terrible? The answer lies in reducing the stigma and making it okay for any gender to openly discuss their mental health issues.
Many men fall prey to the false idea that they should be “tough enough” to fix all their problems on their own or they may lose their authority. However, no one is immune to stress. Talking with others about how it is affecting you can foster empathy, camaraderie, and support — all of which fight against the feelings of isolation on which addiction and mental health issues can thrive.
Untreated mental health issues can very quickly manifest into physical ailments, especially when people are self-treating with alcohol & other substances. We need people to realize that these are medical problems, that there are good treatments available, and that there is hope.
When is it time to ask for help?
If you’re worried that someone you care about may be struggling, or you think that you need help, the following signs can indicate a need for outside assistance:
- Change in mood
- Difference in work performance
- Weight changes
- Sadness, hopelessness, or anhedonia (a loss of pleasure and pulling away from things that used to provide enjoyment)
- Physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach issues.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in a loved one, remind them that asking for help can be a sign of strength rather than weakness. These days, there are numerous resources available.
Finally, for those who have overcome mental health obstacles in their own lives, don’t be afraid to share your own stories. Sometimes reducing stigma means being willing to talk about the times we’ve needed to ask for help ourselves.