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Men’s Mental Health | Symptoms, Support & Treatment
Health & Wellness

Men’s Mental Health | Symptoms, Support & Treatment

January 12, 2022

Mental health has been brought into discussion lately in response to the pandemic. As the TEARS (Together We Educate About the Realities of Suicide) Coordinator, I believe this is a step in the right direction for awareness and stigma reduction. Unfortunately, a stigma still exists. It especially exists in a large population who is less likely to ask for help – men.

Men have been taught over generations to hide their feelings, tough it out or simply “get over” their issues, whatever they may be. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental illness, “getting over it” can often require medications and therapy which men do not always gravitate towards. In addition to cultural reasons, men may even not recognize their feelings as a problem since they are not talking to others about them. These cultural and behavioral issues create barriers for men to seek mental health treatment.

While underreported, men do indeed develop mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. While some symptoms can be similar between men and women, there are other symptoms more common to men.

Symptoms of Depression and/or Anxiety More Common to Men

  • Feelings of anger and irritability
  • Unhealthy coping techniques, such as drug or alcohol abuse
  • Burying themselves in work to avoid their feelings
  • Participating in high-risk behaviors

Untreated mental illness in its most severe form can lead to suicide. In 2019, the death by suicide rate for men in the United States was 3.7 times higher than that of women ( Also, men typically complete suicide more often than women, so attention to their mental health needs is both crucial and urgent.

How to Support Men with Mental Illness

  • Talk about it. He may not even have the insight into whether there is an issue. Mention what behaviors you have observed in him recently that seem concerning to you. It is quite possible he does not have the awareness of how mental illness might manifest itself in his life.
  • If you know of a positive male support he has, mentioning your concerns to that person and having them discuss it with him could be equally, if not more, impactful.
  • Normalizing getting mental health help and talking about it is key to getting him help. Ignoring the issues will not make them go away, so normalizing getting mental health help and talking about mental health are key.

Whether male or female, if you are experiencing mental health issues, know you are not alone. There are confidential treatment options available for all.

Treatment Options

  • There are many online or in person support groups available. Some groups are led and populated by men exclusively.
  • Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to treat mental illness. Mental illness, in many cases, involves chemical imbalances in the brain that therapy alone cannot combat. It is a health issue, and, like many other health issues, it often requires medication to help alleviate symptoms.
  • Therapy with a counselor or social worker to process issues related to the mental illness is important. Using therapy to talk through life stressors or past traumas is a helpful way to work towards healing.

Any person may request a provider of a certain gender if that makes someone feel more comfortable. Therapists and psychiatrists can help normalize feelings and find ways that make them easier to discuss and treat. They can customize treatment plans. Getting started can be challenging, especially for men, but people do very well in treatment once there and make great strides to healing.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255 for free and confidential support.

If you have general concerns about mental health issues, schedule an appointment with your family medicine provider.

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