Updated: Apr 19, 2020
Disclaimer - What is written in my blogs is from my own experience of the world with an addition of scientific evidences and references
Facts about male #mentalhealth -
We are living in a day and age where #suicide rates for men have sky rocketed far beyond where they should be. The neglect of male mental health becomes clear through the following statistics and facts. The first one being that 3 out of 4 suicides are by men and this is covering a range of age groups. In the UK, this issue is the same as around 75% of suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest killer for men under the age of 35 yrs old. Also, it is said that 1 in 8 men are diagnosed with some sort of mental illness, whether it be depression, anxiety, panic disorders and so on. These are extremely concerning facts that will get worse if left unattended.
Well firstly look at our societies, men are always told to 'man-up', to just 'get over it' and to simply not express themselves. They feel neglected of their right to be human in some ways and to be open. This of course is not in all cases but lots of them. But the question comes to mind, is it only women who cry? Not at all. A man can still cry, show emotions and express his feelings, it does not make him any less of a man, it only strengthens him and it shows he is human and is not ashamed of talking about how he feels. A man biologically has testosterone in his body which has several benefits such as having more muscle mass than women, stronger bones, increased bone density and so on. However this shouldn't make men feel that if they are to express their emotions that they are weak when in actual fact it's a strength because they decided to help themselves and take control of their life instead of keeping it inside. Being open and honest about one's emotions develops their ability to communicate and assist with reducing stress. It’s clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Why are female suicide rates not as high?
Females undoubtedly go through mental health issues much like males do and are certainly not strangers to anxiety, depression or any other kind of disorder as women are statistically more likely to be be diagnosed for a mental health issue than men. However, females of course cope with these issues in a very different way. How often have you walked into the staff room at your workplace or into a coffee shop and a group of girls are all having what looks like a crisis or domestic? Pretty often I'm sure. You walk by and you hear they are talking about their problems, they are off loading, a problem shared is a problem halved so they say. Females are very good at communicating about their emotions and feelings, they are not shy to express them and are confident that people will listen to them. This could be a contributing factor to why female depression and suicide statistics may not be as high. Of course this may not be the case for every female and I'm not painting all females with the same brush but if you observe your environments in the workplace, public places and even maybe at home, it is very true for many.
A study which looks at whether women are more emotionally expressive than men tests women and men with their facial expression reactions to adverts which they are watching, this included brow furrowing, lip corner depressors etc. The results showed that men expressed more anger whilst women expressed more happiness and sadness than the men. So this shows that men do express their emotions however the type of emotion they are expressing is different to that which women express on a regular basis. This does not mean that men do not go through happiness and sadness and that women don't go through anger but what it means is that each gender decides to express them in different ways. Therefore bottling up ones emotions could lead to frustration and anger so therefore it can worsen the state of the mind.
How to alleviate the mental health of males?
Understand men have emotions - You may think well 'duh of course men have feelings', but it is shocking the amount of males that get shunned for showing emotions. It's almost considered abnormal and unmanly which completely contradicts our humane feelings. This makes men retreat and decide it's better to keep it inside when it really isn't. Understanding that males may have bad days and good days where they may need a shoulder to cry on is very important. Men often put up this front that nothing is happening to them and they are completely fine but it is your duty as a parent, son/daughter, friend or spouse to recognise that a male in your life is struggling with mental health issues. Seeking advice yourself from professionals as to how you can help (to the best of your ability) other males you know would be beneficial too.
Men should talk more - This rule goes for both genders but especially men as they struggle with communicating their emotions and feelings much more due to the societal stigma. It's almost as if some men feel that crying and weakness is only linked with females whilst anger and aggressiveness is only linked to males which isn't true. Both males and females have those emotions but both express them differently due to gender differences and biology but it shouldn't mean a man can't cry or be visibly upset about a particular event taking place etc. Bottling up those emotions will only lead to the statistics becoming worse.
Don't judge them - If a male has expressed himself to you, do not judge him and make him feel less of a man just because he is talking about his mental health. Judging a man for something which shows he is human will only perpetuate the cycle of neglect of male mental health, it's definitely something you want to avoid. He should be congratulated and respected for that action considering the stigma which is in our societies. By respecting males for showing their emotions, they realise there is no need to fear people saying negative things about them anymore and they will become more open about their health. This will encourage all other males to do the same and realise it's fine to be unwell, to talk about your emotions and to seek help because it's not a sign of weakness, rather it's a sign of strength, empowerment and strong-will.
Speak to a professional - I am speaking directly to the males now, please do not feel that you will be sidelined or cast aside if you reach out for help. The world is changing and is understanding that everybody regardless of race, gender and religion may suffer from mental health issues and there is no need to fear the lack of understanding by professional services as they work day in and day out to assist people like yourselves going through hard times.
May, C., 2020. Are Women More Emotionally Expressive Than Men?. [online] Scientific American. Available at: <https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-women-more-emotionally-expressive-than-men/> [Accessed 12 March 2020].
Counselling-directory.org.uk. 2020.Key Statistics About Men And Mental Health - Counselling Directory. [online] Available at: <https://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/men-and-mental-health-stats.html> [Accessed 19 April 2020].
Ramh.org. 2020.Gender Differences In Mental Health – RAMH. [online] Available at: <https://ramh.org/guide/gender-differences-in-mental-health/> [Accessed 19 April 2020].