Men’s Mental Health: Fact vs. Misinformation

community outreach digital media literacy May 04, 2024
Men’s Mental Health: Fact vs. Misinformation

By: Caleb Dunn, Seasonal Public Relations Intern | Digital4Good


Since the beginning of time, men have been taught to be strong, stoic, and resilient in the face of hardship. Unfortunately, these expectations can be damaging to men who struggle with their mental health. 


The stigma surrounding emotional vulnerability in men pushes them to face internal battles alone, leading to higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide. It is crucial that men are able to express emotions and vulnerability without the weight of judgment. 


What We Know

In order to fight the stigma, we must first understand its roots. Like any gender, men experience mental health issues; however, men are less likely to seek professional help due to societal pressures and stereotypes about masculinity. This results in severe repercussions that often go unnoticed. 


Facts and Statistics

  • Over 6 million men suffer from depression each year, but most go undiagnosed.
  • In 2021, men died by suicide nearly 4 times more than women.
  • White men accounted for 69% of suicide deaths in 2021. 
  • Between 2018-2021, suicide rates have significantly increased overall among non-Hispanic American Indian and Alaskan Native at 26% and non-Hispanic Black people at 19.2%.
  • Men are more likely to turn to alcohol and drug abuse to cope with their mental health struggles.
  • Men may exhibit different symptoms of mental health conditions than women, leading to the underdiagnosis of anxiety and depression. 
  • If a mental health disorder is untreated, this can lead to a domino effect of chronic diseases and issues with overall health. 


Common Symptoms Among Men

  • Physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive problems, or physical pain
  • Overuse of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Noticeable changes in behavior, mood, energy level, or appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating or restlessness
  • Negative talk towards self
  • Spending an excessive amount of time at work or on sports


Myths About Men’s Mental Health

There are many misconceptions about men’s mental health that dissuade men from seeking treatment for mental health concerns. Let’s examine a few of the most common myths.


“Only women suffer from depression.”

The reality is that millions of men suffer depression, but many are reluctant to speak up about it or seek help. Although the symptoms seen in men are sometimes different than those experienced by women, this does not make men’s mental illnesses any less real or severe.


“Men are too tough to worry about their mental health.”

This is a prime example of the harmful effect masculine stereotypes can have on men. This misconception may cause men to believe that seeking help for their mental health makes them less of a man, even if that help can be life-saving. 


“Talking about your feelings makes you less of a man.”

In reality, bottling up your emotions can exacerbate existing mental health problems and lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse.

What We Can Learn

Toxic stereotypes and misconceptions about men’s mental health have caused more harm than good, pressuring men to repress their emotions and driving suicide rates up. Mental health disorders are not limited to a single gender; they affect everyone in different ways. In order to combat the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, we must practice empathy and kindness and educate ourselves and those around us. People with mental health concerns deserve to be heard, seen, and loved, regardless of gender.


If you identify as male and struggle with your mental health, know that you are not alone and that you do not need to feel embarrassed or self-conscious. Avoid listening to generalizations about your mental health. Only you know the full picture. Reach out to a loved one and let them know what is going on. To find more male-focused mental health resources, try the Face It Foundation, Men’s Health Network, or ManTherapy


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