Why Men Don’t Talk…About Their Mental Health

June is dedicated to raising awareness about men’s mental health. We give this priority because men often ignore symptoms of mental health issues out of the fear of disapproval, or the stigma associated with asking for help. This focus in June offers support and encourages men to seek treatment and reduces the risk of suicide.  

Men do not talk about their mental health for many reasons: 

  • I do not wish to be a burden to anyone  
  • I have learned to deal with it 
  • I am too embarrassed  
  • There’s negative stigma around this type of thing 
  • I do not want to admit I need support 
  • I do not want to appear weak  
  • I have no one to talk to 

Even if told to a medical professional like their Primary Care Provider, many men do not feel like they can raise these issues because they feel uncomfortable talking about it. Research suggests the main reason is that they worry it would be a waste of their Providers time. Given that 77% of all suicides are committed by men, it highlights the damage is caused when men feel like they cannot reach out for support.  This is a silent epidemic. 

What Can We Do to Address This Crisis? 

Given the high rates of depression and substance abuse among men, these struggles in men require additional attention always, and not just for the month of June. The first step is to remove the barrier of asking for help. Make it normal to talk about it first and openly in a wellness visit. We also need to have conversations with boys at an early age about mental health and the importance of paying attention to their mental health. Talk about what it means to be a man in terms of there being no shame in asking for help or sharing and expressing concerns related to mood, anxiety, and substance misuse.  

As parents, we need to regularly check in with our sons about their mental health and reassure them there is help available to manage these things. As spouses and partners, we need to ask questions when we see our “person” challenged by behavioral changes such as isolating himself, being irritable, or avoiding things he typically enjoys.  

Lastly, in the workplace, we need to create safe spaces to have these discussions in the way of check-ins or informational and interactive opportunities related to mental health issues. Leaders must encourage time off and leisure to support men’s mental wellness. June gives us time to commit to these practices and reminds all of us that addressing and talking about men’s mental health is critical. Make these conversations normal. It improves and saves lives.  

Jill Hey
MS, LPC
Licensed Clinical Therapist, ViaroCare

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