Mental illness is a challenging and prevalent issue affecting individuals worldwide, irrespective of age, race, ethnicity, or gender. However, men often face unique challenges in recognizing and addressing their mental health struggles. Statistics show that four out of five deaths by suicide in Canada are men. By understanding the signs of mental illness in men, we can break the silence surrounding mental health in men, promote awareness, and encourage timely intervention and support. Keep reading to uncover six signs of mental illness in men.
6 Common Signs of Mental Illness in Men
Influenced by societal expectations, men often delay seeking support and assistance for male mental health issues. The misconception that men should be tough, self-reliant, and silently endure pain contributes to their difficulty in acknowledging their feelings. This burden of masculinity can prevent men from seeking help until their mental health reaches a critical point. So, by understanding these challenges, we can work towards dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health for men and creating a more inclusive environment for seeking support. How do you know if a man is struggling with mental illness? Six signs of mental illness in men include but are not limited to:
- Emotional Withdrawal: Men struggling with mental health may exhibit emotional withdrawal, distancing themselves from loved ones and social activities. They may avoid expressing their emotions, leading to isolation and detachment.
- Aggressive Behaviour: Unresolved mental health issues can manifest as increased irritability, anger, or even aggression. Men may have difficulty managing their emotions, resulting in outbursts that are uncharacteristic of their usual behaviour.
- Substance Abuse: Men may turn to substance abuse as a coping mechanism. This self-medication can worsen their condition and lead to a destructive cycle of addiction.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: Mental illness can disrupt sleep patterns, causing insomnia or excessive sleepiness. Men may experience difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling refreshed upon waking.
- Physical Symptoms: Mental health problems often manifest as physical symptoms. Men may experience unexplained headaches, digestive issues, muscle tension, or chronic pain that do not respond to traditional medical treatments.
- Loss of Interest and Productivity: Men may experience a lack of focus, decreased productivity at work or school, and difficulty completing tasks. They can also pull away from previously enjoyed activities like hobbies.
The Range of Mental Health Conditions
Although depression affects both genders, men often display different symptoms. Instead of expressing sadness, they may become irritable, aggressive, or engage in risky behaviours like substance abuse. This atypical presentation can make it harder to identify and diagnose depression in men.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses for males, including generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. However, due to societal expectations, men may attempt to mask their anxiety or dismiss it as stress, making it more challenging to seek appropriate treatment.
PTSD is characterized by symptoms reliving a traumatic experience, such as accidents, assaults, combat, natural disasters, or witnessing a death or injury. Although women tend to experience higher rates of PTSD, the percentage of men who struggle with it is still high.
Overcoming Stigma in Men’s Mental Health
Men’s mental health is an important yet often overlooked aspect of overall well-being. While mental health issues affect individuals of all genders, men face unique challenges in acknowledging and addressing their emotional struggles. Societal expectations, cultural norms, and traditional gender roles often discourage men from seeking help or discussing their mental health openly. That’s why breaking the silence and understanding the specific issues that impact men’s mental health is crucial.
A proactive way to address these challenges is by promoting open dialogue and creating supportive environments for men to discuss their mental health concerns. Encouraging emotional vulnerability and empathy can help men feel more comfortable seeking help when needed. Education and awareness campaigns can also challenge harmful stereotypes and reshape societal perceptions around men’s mental health.
How to Offer Support
If someone you know is struggling with their mental health, knowing how to best offer support can be challenging. Use these tips as a starting point:
- Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about different mental illnesses, including the specific symptoms they are dealing with. This knowledge will help you gain insight into their unique experience and allow you to offer empathy.
- Lead with an open mind: It is also essential to foster open communication. Be honest and encourage non-judgmental communication to create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing feelings and concerns — without fear of stigma or rejection. Learn to actively listen and validate their emotions.
- Encourage professional help: You can only provide so much support before professional help is needed. Offer to help find a counsellor, medical professional, or support group. These resources can provide them with the necessary tools and support to manage their mental health effectively.
- Take care of yourself: Helping someone with their mental health can take a toll, so remember to prioritize your health as well. This can be through practicing self-care and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
Treatment for Men’s Mental Health
Although many men are reluctant to seek and continue treatment for mental health issues, it’s an essential step in recovery. Effective treatment allows men to manage their symptoms, change their negative thought processes, and unlearn certain behaviours.
There are many forms of medication available to treat depression, with some of the most popular groups being SSRIs. It’s important to speak to a doctor or mental health professional to find the right medication for you and your symptoms.
Working with a counsellor can be a beneficial tool for working through triggers and heading towards recovery. It can also help individuals better manage and develop their coping skills. For counselling to be effective, finding the right counsellor is crucial, and so is understanding that counselling is not a one-time process and that it takes time, patience, and effort to see results. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, has various therapeutic approaches to improve mental health. Depending on the form of mental illness, a counsellor will take different approaches to therapy.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: One of the most popular forms of psychotherapy, CBT focuses on changing negative thoughts, beliefs, and actions contributing to psychological distress.
- Psychodynamic Therapy: This explores how past experiences and unconscious thoughts influence current behaviours and emotions. It aims to increase self-awareness and understand underlying patterns.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy: DBT aims to help people accept their thoughts and emotions while actively taking action toward their goals, as it emphasizes mindfulness, acceptance, and psychological flexibility.
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: These forms of therapy are often used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and trauma-related issues. It involves using bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements, to process triggering memories and reduce their impact.
- Interpersonal Therapy: IPT focuses on improving interpersonal relationships and communication skills. It addresses specific issues like grief, role disputes, life transitions, and interpersonal conflicts to enhance social support and emotional well-being.
Men Deserve Comprehensive Mental Health Support
Men’s mental health is a vital but often overlooked aspect of overall well-being. Society’s expectations of masculinity and the stigma surrounding vulnerability have long hindered men from seeking help and addressing their mental health challenges. It’s time we prioritize men’s mental well-being and create a supportive environment where they feel comfortable opening up and seeking support. The statistics surrounding men’s mental health, particularly suicide rates, highlight the urgency of addressing this issue. By normalizing discussions, providing accessible resources, and tailored support systems, we can create a space where men feel seen, heard, and supported. Feeling like you need support? A Wellin5 counsellor is available. Connect with a counsellor today.