Fall has officially arrived, which means it’s time for changing leaves, a crispness in the air—and for men across the world to grow their mustaches for a good cause. The month of November signifies the start of Movember, helping to shine the spotlight on an often-overlooked aspect of men’s well-being: their mental health.
In a world that often values stoicism and suppresses vulnerability, men can often face unique challenges when it comes to working on their mental and emotional well-being. Stereotypes and societal expectations can create an environment where opening up about feelings and struggles becomes a daunting task for men, sometimes with devastating consequences: untreated mental disorders and physical health conditions, strained relationships, and an overall diminished quality of life.
The Movember movement encourages men to embrace their vulnerabilities and to talk more about their challenges. Beyond the mustaches, Movember represents the growing depth of conversations around what it means to be healthy, helping to break down the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. In light of this, Clear Behavioral Health will amplify the Movember movement’s message and aim to empower men to prioritize their mental well-being with this month’s article.
What is Movember?
Movember is an annual event that takes place during the month of November in which men around the world grow mustaches to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues, particularly prostate/testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention.
The Movember movement began in Australia in 2003, with participants around the world joining the cause each year. In addition to expanding the conversation around men’s health, they’ve also worked to raise funds for research, education, and support programs to improve the lives of men, along with working to combat the stigma surrounding many men’s health issues.
Participants in Movember can register on the official website, where they can create fundraising teams, set goals, and track their progress throughout the month. The funding is used to support research projects, increase awareness, and provide support and resources to individuals and families affected by men’s health issues.
What Are Some Common Men’s Mental Health Issues?
Men, like women, can experience a variety of the same mental disorders. It’s important to note that such challenges can affect anyone, regardless of gender or demographics. However, societal expectations and traditional gender roles can also influence how men perceive and express their mental health struggles, such as displaying a reluctance to discuss them or to reach out for help. Men are far less likely to seek treatment and support for mental health issues than women, with just 1 in 4 opting to speak with a professional about their concerns.
While the specific challenges individuals face can vary, some common mental health issues and mental illnesses that affect men include:
- Male Depression: Feelings of persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and changes in sleep and appetite, which are characteristic symptoms of depression.
- Anxiety Disorders: Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder, involve excessive worry, fear, or nervousness, often leading to avoidance of certain situations or places.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Men, particularly those who have experienced trauma—such as military veterans or survivors of accidents or violence—can develop PTSD. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety triggered by past traumatic events.
- Suicidal thoughts: Men are more likely to die by suicide than women, making this a significant concern for men’s mental health. Feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness, or thoughts of suicide require immediate attention and support.
- Substance abuse and addiction: Men are more likely than women to use illicit drugs, and illicit drug use is more likely to result in hospitalization or overdose and death for men as well. Additionally, many issues with addiction can also coexist with underlying mental health disorders, known as co-occurring disorders.
- Anger and aggression issues: Men may struggle with managing their anger and aggression, which can impact their relationships and overall quality of life.
- Work-related stress: Pressures at work, financial stress, and job-related challenges can significantly impact your mental health, leading to conditions like burnout and chronic stress (as well as impact the development of other mental health disorders and physical health challenges).
Men’s Mental Health Statistics
While it’s true that mental illnesses are more prevalent in women than in men, men themselves are far less likely to receive any mental health treatment overall. Six million men are affected by depression in the US each year, and men also account for 70% of all alcohol-related deaths nationwide as well.
Men account for a shocking 90% of diagnosed cases of schizophrenia by the age of 30, as well as an estimated 10% of anorexia and bulimia cases, along with an estimated 35% of binge-eating disorder cases.
Why is Men’s Mental Health Often Stigmatized?
Men’s mental health is often stigmatized due to a complex interplay of social, cultural, and historical factors:
- Traditional gender expectations: Societal norms often dictate that men should be strong and unemotional. Expressing vulnerability or seeking help for emotional or psychological struggles can be seen as a deviation from these traditional expectations, leading to the development of stigma.
- The fear of being perceived as weak: Admitting mental health challenges might be perceived as a sign of weakness in a culture that values strength, resilience, and independence. Men may fear being judged, ridiculed, or belittled if they open up about their experiences.
- Carrying misconceptions about masculinity: There are pervasive misconceptions about masculinity, frequently linking it to unwavering emotional toughness and invulnerability. Men fearing their masculinity being questioned might avoid discussing mental health concerns altogether as a result.
- A lack of emotional expression: Men might have limited experience expressing their emotions openly. As a result, they might find it challenging to articulate their feelings, making it difficult to discuss any potential mental health issues with others.
- Under-reporting of Symptoms: Men are more likely to under-report mental health symptoms or self-medicate with substances, which further hinders their access to appropriate support and treatment.
- The media and stereotypes: Media representations often reinforce traditional gender roles and stereotypes, working to shape public perception. Portrayals of men as always strong and in control can perpetuate stigma around having mental health struggles.
Addressing the stigma around men’s mental health requires challenging these deeply ingrained societal beliefs and encouraging more open conversations. Public awareness campaigns, education, and de-stigmatization efforts can play a significant role in breaking down these barriers and creating a more supportive environment for men to discuss their mental health concerns openly.
Why It’s Important to Seek Treatment For Mental Health Concerns
Untreated mental health conditions can have serious and far-reaching consequences, affecting various aspects of an individual’s life. These can include:
A decline in your overall quality of life
Untreated mental health issues can significantly diminish one’s overall quality of life, leading to persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emotional distress, or anxiety, making it difficult to enjoy your daily activities or maintain healthy relationships.
Impaired physical health
Mental health problems are often linked to physical symptoms and health issues such as sleep disturbances, weakened immune system, and increased risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Struggling with unaddressed mental health concerns can strain your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. Behavioral changes, mood swings, and emotional withdrawal can lead to an increase in misunderstandings and conflicts.
Mental health issues can impair your cognitive function, concentration, and decision-making abilities, impacting your overall academic or work performance.
An increased risk of substance abuse
Some individuals may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to cope with the different symptoms of their mental disorder, leading to substance abuse issues and the potential consequences that can arise as a result.
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Severe untreated mental health conditions can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative to seek help immediately.
Get the Support You Need
Effective treatments for mental health concerns—such as therapy, counseling, medication, or a combination of these approaches—can significantly improve your overall well-being. With appropriate support and mental health treatment, many individuals can recover from mental health conditions and learn new, effective coping strategies to manage their future challenges.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and the first step taken toward a healthier, happier future. Contact Clear Behavioral Health today to seek support and learn more about our mental health treatment in Los Angeles and virtual mental health treatment serving all of California.
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- Call, J. B., & Shafer, K. (2015). Gendered Manifestations of Depression and Help Seeking Among Men. American Journal of Men’s Health, 12(1), 41–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/1557988315623993 on November 7th, 2023
- American Psychological Association. (2015, December). By the Numbers: Men and depression. Https://Www.apa.org. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/12/numbers on November 7th, 2023
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Suicide Data and Statistics | Suicide | CDC. Www.cdc.gov; CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/suicide-data-statistics.html on November 7th, 2023
- NIDA. (2020, April). Sex and gender differences in substance use. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use on November 7th, 2023
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication No. SMA 18-5068, NSDUH Series H-53). Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/ on November 8th, 2023
- Men’s Mental Health | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2023, January 5). Adaa.org. https://adaa.org/find-help/by-demographics/mens-mental-health on November 8th, 2023
- Mental Health America. (2020). Infographic: Mental Health for Men | Mental Health America. Mhanational.org. https://www.mhanational.org/infographic-mental-health-men on November 8th, 2023