When it comes to mental health, our symptoms and even attitudes towards it can often present differently for men and women. In fact, men are less likely to seek help for their mental health issues. This unfortunate statistic makes sense, considering the traditional gender roles presented by society. Society portrays man as the protector, the provider, the strength and foundation. While strength is a good thing, the traditional interpretation of strength is often misguided. What follows this misinformed concept is the idea that men should do what men do and “man up”.
This long-enforced stereotype is harmful to men and it’s important to talk about. An outdated mindset like this one perpetuates mental health issues and ensures that men suffer. Mental health is a stigmatized topic as it is, but it’s often more significant for men. If you are a man or know a man in your life, the key message is that mental health is not gender specific, and your feelings and struggles are valid. If you or a loved one are struggling with suppressed mental health issues, please consider reaching out for professional help and assistance.
While we all experience mental health issues, mental health has long studied gender specific differences in the way symptoms present themselves. This is a good time to remind you that your mental health should never be compared to someone else. However, there are symptoms that show up more commonly in men. Women are more likely to have “internal” symptoms, while men present with “external” symptoms. This could be due to societal cues or biological factors. These differences can often lead to men being under or misdiagnosed as a result. Men are also less likely to judge their symptoms as an underlying mental health issue. If you’re not sure what they are, below are common symptoms often observed in men.
Men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women. While there are many ways to speculate the reason for this statistic, it’s even more important to work on changing it. While getting help is important, there are other ways you can support yourself in the process.
Strength is not equal to completely sacrificing yourself so that your family and loved ones are happy. Mental toughness isn’t about neglecting negative feelings. While it’s rewarding to be the generous and steady provider, it becomes dysfunctional and negative if you never take care of yourself. When you don’t take care of yourself first, things eventually begin to spiral out of control. The strongest thing you could possibly do is take responsibility for your mental wellbeing.
Exercise and staying active is important for any gender, but it can be a great extinguisher for anger. Men are more likely to act out externally in ways like anger and irritability. Exercise is a healthy way to expel angsty energy and move through it. It’s a good idea to make time each day to break a sweat.
One of the reasons men are less likely to seek support for their mental health is because they express emotions and ask for help differently than women and children. As a mam, it could be more beneficial for you to participate in an informal group setting. Support groups provide a safe space to express emotions that might in other places compromise sense of masculinity. Finding a group of people with similar life paths can also help you feel understood.
Men are more likely to turn to unhealthy and explosive coping strategies like anger, alcohol, and drugs when their mental health flares up. It’s nearly impossible to manage our emotions and act reasonably without any understanding of what our emotions mean and how to process them. Emotional regulation is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Learning more about emotional regulation will make you more likely to attempt using a positive strategy when things head south.
It’s time to put an end to the outdated ideas of masculinity and ignoring the fact that men are human, too. If you’re struggling with your mental health and have yet to ask for help, this is your reminder that you are worthy of peace. If you know a man in your life who is struggling, this is your opportunity to create a safe space and encourage vulnerability. When you’re ready, our team in Southlake, TX will be here to help you find success.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.