Men's Mental Health Monday
Today I want to begin to discuss men's mental health and how we've failed them. This won't be a comprehensive blog post on the ways society has failed men, but will begin the conversation in a series of posts.
Stereotypes and societal pressure make it less acceptable for men to feel comfortable disclosing mental health, work, family, sexual and domestic abuse issues. This means that more often than not they suffer in silence.
While women are more likely to attempt to die by suicide, men are more likely to die from suicide (often using more lethal means). Another difference is the influencing factors for men. Society and traditional gender roles perpetuate men as the breadwinner, strength and control over emotions and vulnerability, and expectations regarding sex and sexuality. This can lead to internal conflict, shame and guilt when a male identified individual falls short of the expectations perpetrated by western society and can precipitate mental health challenges such as substance use, depression, anxiety and more.
Mental health warning signs can include irritability, increased anger or frustration, energy and mood changes, restlessness, substance use changes (namely an increase), sadness/hopelessness, aches, pains and physical symptoms, and displacement. Men are more at risk of experiencing mental health issues if they have a history of trauma, are experiencing employment issues, relationship conflict, legal/financial concerns, and have a family history of mental health issues.
A question I have been sitting with is how do I help raise the men up around me, make the space feel safer and ensure I continue to unpack my double standards when it comes to gendered violence, choosing to remind myself that it is less safe for men to disclose abuse and that reported numbers aren't accurate for any gender. Let's check on our strong friends, put assumptions aside and approach their experiences with compassionate curiosity and an open mind.