Even though mental health awareness is growing, there remains a stigma around it, particularly for men, that keeps many men from seeking help when they need it.
Mental struggles cannot be simply willed away. They are not like the seasonal flu; they persist and persist and they eat you up inside until there is nothing left.
This, with the added bonus of a society that sees emotions as a sign of vulnerability and weakness, keeps many men (who struggle with mental illness) from accepting that they need help or seeking it. They prefer to suffer in silence.
Men don't always show the signs we normally tend to associate with mental health struggles - such as sadness & hopelessness. Many men struggling with mental health issues may express anger, irritability, aggression, or high risk behaviors instead, resulting in us missing the signs. As we miss the signs, the man in question becomes more and more distant and averse to the idea of getting help.
In fact, due to the stigma around men's mental health preventing men from seeking treatment, the rate of suicide in men is about three times that in females, for all age groups around the world. Unfortunately, this number is only growing.
It's important to get rid of the notion that men expressing emotions is a sign of weakness, and even more important to emphasize the importance of seeking help for our mental struggles, irrespective of our gender.
Some of the common signs & symptoms of mental health struggles are :
- Anger, irritability or aggression
- Displaying High Risk Behavior
- Physical aches or pains, racing heart, tightening chest, digestive disorders etc.
- Exhaustion, loss of sleep, or changes in sleep patterns
- Noticeable changes in appetite
- Noticeable changes in mood or energy levels
- Increased dependence on substances
- Anxiety, restlessness, or inability to focus
- Withdrawal & loss of interest in work, family & socialisation
- Loss of interest in sex
- Suicidal thoughts & attempts
If you think someone close to you is struggling, offer your support and hear him out. Encourage him to see someone who can provide help. Mental health issues can be very isolating, and even one person being there for him can be the strength he needs to take a step towards recovery.