Men’s mental health has been a long overdue issue that is being increasingly brought to the attention of society. Unfortunately, men often feel too ashamed or embarrassed to get the help they need due to the stigma associated with mental health that exists in many communities and the hundreds of years of conformity. It is important to discuss what is being done to bring awareness to men’s mental health and to provide them with much-needed support.
Acknowledging Men’s Mental Health Issues
Men's mental health issues are too often under-acknowledged and overlooked. It's essential that these issues be brought to light, as they can have serious and long-lasting repercussions if left untreated; studies might show that women are "more likely" to be affected by mental health issues, but it may just be that women are more vocal about acknowledging it. Fortunately, with the right education and support, you can address and manage these issues, allowing men to live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. There is no shame in speaking out and seeking help when it comes to men's mental health. It takes strength, courage, and support to take the necessary steps to seek the assistance and care that is needed. Being brave enough to speak out about your mental health is a gender-irrelevant act; everyone can be affected and anyone can struggle however we need to continue to be mindful of the differences we all face and how men approach mental illness.
Breaking Down Shaming Barriers A key element of why men don't often seek help for their mental health is due to embarrassment or shame; after generations of men being told to "man up" or "tough it out" the feeling of not being able to cope could be unwelcome, destructive and ultimately "shameful". We live in a society now, which is far more accepting of everyone's challenges but there is still a long way to go in terms of diminishing these stereotypical feelings. Shaming is a toxic pattern that many people face and it can be difficult to break out of. By breaking down the shaming barrier, we can start to foster a more supportive and encouraging environment. This starts by recognizing how shame manifests in our lives, understanding the differences between guilt and shame, and how to start to rebuild your own self-worth.
To break down the shaming barrier, it’s important to focus on acts of self-kindness versus self-judgment, noting the differences between constructive criticism and criticism meant to make somebody feel small. We all do it, but a little voice in our heads tells us negative thoughts and this is the part of our brain where mental illness lives. Being able to identify when we are doing it, and why we are doing it and learning to dismiss it or turn the conversation around to be more positive is a skill which will push down those barriers.
It’s also important to be conscious of how we speak to both ourselves and others, being sure to avoid the most common shaming phrases like “this isn’t good enough” or “you’re not worth it”. Shaming comes from a place of low self-confidence, and it’s essential to remember that we have the power to choose our own thoughts and words.
Improve your self-confidence:
Take social media breaks: Social media can be wonderful at times, keeping us connected and informing us of local and worldwide events, but it can also be damaging. Actively taking time out, whether that be an hour or a whole day, will vastly improve your confidence. Remember people only see what they want you to see online.
Journaling: Journaling can improve your mental health, this has been proven, but if you struggle with self-confidence, getting a gratitude journal or bullet journal will help. These journals are designed with a particular goal in mind whether that be increasing positivity or finding your triggers. They are often short and concise, asking you questions rather than a blank page. Visit our "How it works" section to learn more about Discovery Journal.
Physical health: It's the old age story we've all heard, exercise makes you look and feel better! But they wouldn't say it if it wasn't true. Setting yourself goals with exercise and health can be very rewarding and although it's often a commitment, the benefits massively outweigh reluctance. Maybe start off with a step goal for each day and build up! Read our blog "Does exercise really help with anxiety" for more tips on getting started.
Connecting Men with the Right Resources It is essential to consider the resources available to men to help them make informed decisions and build better lives. Whether they seek out counselling, educational resources, job training, or financial literacy programs, having access to knowledgeable, engaging resources is invaluable. Part of the challenge is discovering the proper avenues for finding these resources. Many organizations are working hard to bridge the gap and make sure men have the ability to find the answers they need and make the best decisions for their future.
Here are some we have found:
"Men’s Sheds (or Sheds) are similar to garden sheds – a place to pursue practical interests at leisure, to practice skills and enjoy making and mending."
"For a long time, research has shown the negative impact of loneliness and isolation on a person’s health and wellbeing. Men typically find it more difficult to build social connections than women, and unlike women of a similar age, men have networks of friends and rarely share personal concerns about health and personal worries. Men Sheds can change all that"
"At ANDYSMANCLUB, we want to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health and create a judgment-free, confidential space where men can be open about the storms in their lives. We aim to achieve this through weekly, free-to-attend peer-to-peer support groups for men aged over 18. "
"MATES CIC was created to be a safe community where people can speak openly about mental health."
"We revolve around a safe Facebook members-only group which acts as an online chat room for people to speak openly about mental health.
As well, we hold regular and weekly activities to give our community plenty of events, places and opportunities to go out and where our MATES Ambassadors are on hand to start the conversations and listen without stigma or judgement. "
Mates also have their own football club, golf events, pubhub and cycling group, as well as walk and talk groups.
"MenSpeak Men's Groups CIC is a non-profit community creating spaces for men just like you who want more out of life.
We host daily live men's groups online, monthly online facilitator training, special interest-themed groups, private 'closed' groups, in-person retreats, and an online community network that promotes conscious connection in men and healthy masculinity."
Combating Stigma Through Education In order to effectively combat the stigma that is so deeply entrenched in our society, education is key. It is important that everyone, from school-aged children to adults, is made aware of the dangers of negative stereotypes and how these misconceptions can lead to misunderstanding and unjust treatment of others. By providing educational materials and resources that explain the different types of stigma, why it occurs, and how it can be addressed, we can help our society move towards a more open and empathetic approach to acceptance and understanding. Through education, we can strive to create a culture that is more connected to our shared human experience.
Seeking Psychological Help Without Shame It’s important to remember that seeking psychological help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it’s a sign of strength, resilience, and courage to take the steps to better yourself. All individuals should feel empowered to reach out for help when it’s needed, without fear of judgement or shame. It is vital to recognize the signs of needing help and to take ownership of your mental health journey without resorting to embarrassment, guilt, or diminished self-esteem. With the proper guidance, support, and resources, anyone can find the clarity, courage, and coping skills to lead a better, more fulfilling life.
There are many different types of therapies available, it's not one size fits all, have a look at our blog "Which therapy is best for me" to help find the right guidance and navigate the field of counselling more precisely.
Mental health is a serious issue that should not be brushed aside, it's just as important as physical health; just because you can't see the problem with your eyes doesn't mean it isn't there. Men are personally and emotionally impacted by mental health issues and it is important to provide them with the support and resources that they need to be successful. Through acknowledging men’s mental health issues, breaking down shaming barriers, connecting men with the right resources, combating stigma through education, and seeking psychological help without shame, it is possible to break mental health stigma and help those in need.