Men are more than three times more likely to die by suicide than women and less likely to reach out to family, friends, or therapists for help, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
One theory to explain those figures, as discussed in Psychology Today, is that men are taught to suppress their emotions while growing up. Many young boys grow up thinking that expressing their feelings will be seen as unmanly or wrong, which is why many attempt to ignore their mental illness later in life.
The idea that men shouldn’t express their emotions is one of several myths that makes it difficult for men to address mental health concerns. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, five stigmas prevent men from asking for the help they desperately need.
- Mental illness means you’re weak
- A man should be able to control his feelings
- Real men don’t ask for help
- Talking about depression won’t help
- Depression will make you a burden to others
Despite the fact that none of the above statements is true, men are still hesitant to talk about their mental health. What makes it worse is men display different symptoms of mental illness than women. While women tend to withdraw, men often act out. They can become angry or aggressive, and some turn to alcohol or drugs. That can make it hard for friends and family to know when to reach out to the men in their lives.
HeadsUpGuys, an online resource for men suffering from depression and other mental illnesses, is dedicated to eliminating the stigma around men’s mental health and provides resources to help men learn to live with their depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.
More than 6 million men in the United States suffer from mental illness. If you or a loved one may need professional help, your doctor can advise you about finding a therapist or other assistance.