A Social Issue: Men and Mental Health

 Mental Health Awareness is an important factor in normalizing mental health and helping those who have it get treatment. When it comes to mental health overall, it's this complex thing of understanding genetic chemistry, traumatic situations, physical health, and the brain wiring that makes it up. When it comes to talking about it and finding treatments for it- that too can become complex. When in regards to women, we are naturally more open to discussing things. It was just the other day that I was openly talking about questioning my sexuality in ways with my mother and her friend. Which sparked open discussions about mental health, marijuana usage, and other forms of therapy. I have been doing a lot of research while writing this post and the ones to follow. I’ve also been trying to better myself with it and telling my fellow anxious and depressed people what has been working. A part of that discussion at my mom’s kitchen table was also about how men don't do that though- they don't sit around tables discussing their sexuality, feelings, thoughts, or problems. It honestly seems like although some men do know where to go, who to turn to, or what to search for- a lot of men don't. Or even worse, don't feel like they can.

  When it comes to mental health specifically with men- there's a lot that's just not there. Research, data, advocacy, other men speaking out, alternative therapies- there’s not too much data regarding men and mental health. There’s a lot of talk about what happens to the men who unfortunately don’t know how or never do reach out for help though. With this being such a literal silent crisis, it's disheartening to see we only really know what goes on after their suffering ends in the worst case possible, suicide. There’s two forms of suicide mentioned across a lot of the articles I looked up when searching for men and mental health. The first form was actually suicide, research stating that one man commits suicide every twenty minutes in the United StatesSeventy-five percent of suicides are said to be committed by men. With small towns and rural areas having particularly high rates of suicide, more than likely due to the way of life men are seen to need to follow in those areas. The second is called slow-motion-suicide, it refers to substance abuse. Many men use substance abuse when found in stressful life transitions, but it's not just men who go this route. For every three men that end up going to substance abuse as their harmful coping mechanism, one woman is following the same path. Though predominately, it seems like men are more liking to complete suicide or choose the slow-motion version of it. 
  One of the biggest reasons it seems that men go down one of these two routes is because of the feeling of isolation from the mainstream. A lot of the men that go towards the first route I mentioned of completing suicide are veterans, young American Indians, and gay men. Men already are significantly less likely to use mental health services- with Black, Latino, and Asian Men having lower utilization rates. Even when white men usually having more access to mental health services, they too don't usually go to them for help. All of these men that fight mental health-related struggles are just like everyone else. One in five American adults have mental illnesses in their life, or at least at some point during it- or even during a year, depending on the person. The reason men are less likely to reach out for help, unlike women, is attributed to stubbornness and the go-to method of treatment by some places; talk-therapy and medication. Men are taught to be a certain way and reaching out for help when their brain is against them, it's not something that they seemed to have been taught. Stubbornness is attributed to all of this due to the fact men are taught to be strong soldiers or warriors. Then we expect them to know exactly what to do when looking help, they'll just know who to go to or what to do because they are strong independent men who don't need anyone. We are supposed to look up to them, women are taught through Disney princess movies to rely on them. So when it's their turn to turn to someone, they don't know who so they just don't. They rely on alcohol, sleeping with people, doing drugs, self-harm, or suicide. 

  Men's mental health should be seen as a social issue and not just a mental health issue. When it comes to treating this problem there are many solutions. First of all, the government should at some point step in. That's just my opinion considering suicide, or a slower suicide seems to be the ending result of many mentally ill men. All of whose mental illnesses are treatable in some type of way whether with medication and talk-therapy like usually recommended, or action therapy; which is what men seem to prefer. With vulnerability seen as "weak" by society (something I have fallen subject to believing) especially when coming from men- it's caused a toxic mindset for many where things don't seem treatable. The idea of vulnerability should be turned from the idea of weakness to a core source of emotional strength. If you start with early childhood development, we should truly start there. The way we've been raising men hasn't been healthy, nor fair to women, nor okay to put on anyone. If we treated all human beings in the same way and gave men the same treatment towards mental health issues that we did with women, the number of suicides could drop when you compare the numbers we already have seen with women's mental health. If we went to treatment towards those who already have anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other mental health issues then we need to turn towards alternative care. Men prefer action when it comes to their feelings and even expressing those feelings. Whether with working out and boosting endorphins or spending thirty minutes in the Rage Room, we need to approach therapy with new ideas and open minds.

  It took me about sixteen years to finally (1:) want to help myself, (2:) accept the idea of therapy and medication, (3:) look and find the right place for me to receive treatment, and (4:) be open to other forms of therapy and treatments. It's hard for everyone in their own ways. Everyone goes through and does things on their own at their own pace. But we all share similar feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and more at some point in our lives. There are many different forms of therapy out there today. Plus different coping skills you can pick up yourself to help you out as well while you aren't actively doing what you choose for therapy. If we kept that in mind while going to treat men for these feelings, as well as gave them the information about how to reach out or speak to others about it. If we showed men that discussing mental health isn't a bad thing, and asking for help isn't either. That again shows that being vulnerable isn't a sign of weakness or a bad thing- it's something that shows you're strong enough to admit you need help, as well as want it. Wanting to help yourself mentally should be treated the same as if you went to a doctor or the gym to better your body. We normalize going to the gym to get in better shape physically and we normalize going to the doctor for check-ups or when we feel sick. Having other men speak up about how they too have these feelings, have dealt with these feelings, have gotten help for these feelings, and how they are currently treating these feelings- it all helps

  I'll be discussing a lot more on mental health in the following articles by talking to people who have these feelings. Also alternative methods of therapy including coping skills of both bad and good nature. I'm not a therapist by any means, yet, though I do believe the more information we find and share to put out there- may be the more people can be helped. The more people discussing their own experiences, treatments, feelings, coping skills, and way of living now after finding some help- it gets more exposure to the problems at hand. It shines a light on the silent crisis and shows men they have a voice that they are able to use, and if they can't there are other forms of reaching out. I started my blog as an outlet for me, a type of writing therapy if I had to describe it. I also started it to see if I wasn't the only one feeling this way and with the numerous amount of people who have emailed me saying "you described it so well" then it only confirms it. Everyone goes through these feelings at some point in their life and men shouldn't have to suffer in silence just because society has failed them. They have not failed themselves.

Helpful Resources:

My Instagram

Copyright © Sophie Kinsey 1997. Made with by OddThemes