MENtal Health.

Men's Mental Health : The Silent Crisis

Annual treatment rates among U.S. adults with any mental illness, by demographic group: Male: 34.9% Female: 48.6%

That is a 13.7% difference. Why are women with mental illnesses more likely to receive help than men? Why is the stigma so strong in the male community? I had the joy of interviewing one of my best friends about this topic - here is what he had to say.

Q: When did you first know that you were struggling mentally & what are those struggles?

A: Anxiety, depression, and according to my doctor, a touch of OCD. Which I agree and believe manifests itself from anxiety. My anxiety is the root of my problem - because my anxiety starts off that I am anxious, then I am depressed that I am anxious, then I have to do something to get out of being depressed so I start cleaning. But then my cleaning turns into manic very meticulous cleaning. When I first really realized it, was honestly probably around Middle - High School because growing up it was always "oh (name) is just annoying." I think I was always craving attention or stimulation. Not because I was necessarily a needy kid - but because I needed to be kept busy. I didn't really like alone time, but also didn't like being around people.

What’s real is the fact that 9 percent of men experience depression on a daily basis. That’s more than 6 million men.

Q: Have you ever dealt with anything negative from the male community when it comes to your mental health?

A: In the male community, it's not really talk about. It's not as freely talked about where like you and I can talk about anything. Trying to talk to other men about mental health - results in actually talking about your feelings and guys don't really talk about their feelings. Especially being a gay man in a majority heterosexual work environment. There are actually two sides to that, the older generation - like our parents (lower 50's) don't talk about it at all. Then you have our generation and younger, that are being more open to bringing these things up. It is still not really talked about, but I find that depending as to where I am at and who I am surrounded by - generation wise - I can tell who I can talk about it with. But typically its just simply something that isn't talked about. Its very far and few between that I have had a real conversion with another man about feelings.

75% of people who die by suicide are male.

The suicide rate among American men is about four times higher than among women, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q: How have you dealt with that negativity?

A: I actually have not had to deal with that because I feel more comfortable opening up to women. Personally just being gay and just me, I feel more comfortable talking to women about it, I have a female psychiatrist, my sister, my mother, you guys. It just comes easier for me to speak about my feelings with women without feeling judged for being a "sissy" or being "sensitive". That judgement is really hard and makes my anxiety even worse.

Women are diagnosed with depression at a much higher rate than men.

Both men and women experience depression but the willingness to talk about their feelings may be very different. This is one of the reasons that depression symptoms for men and women may be very different as well. Men are less likely to open up about their mental health struggles.

Q: Growing up were there any negative feelings towards emotion/mental health since you are a man?

A: Being and emotional child I was told to "get over it" a lot, or that I was "just being dramatic". I really felt sometime of way about something and couldn't find a way to express myself. Growing up, it was just "toughen up a little bit"- it wasn't necessarily mean , it was just how boys are raised. "You fall - you get up and get over it" I see it a lot of that - even now. Where people are so much tougher on boys, to make them men. I guess there isn't anything wrong with that, but at the same time you need to make sure they know that expressing themselves doesn't make them weak or any less of a man. If anything I think it makes you more of a man to open up because you are able to express your feelings. Even for me, having to get help earlier this year - after hitting rock bottom. Having to admit "defeat" it was truly hard because I am a man, I am supposed to be strong. But I couldn't keep doing this to myself or the people I cared about - accepting that I couldn't do this on my own and I really needed help, was tough. My (then) male therapist that was very open and honest and definitely changed my approach to speak with people in general. He taught me that you don't have to just walk up to some guy and say "I'm sad today!" It's as simple as changing your wording to "It's a rough day man" and you'll be surprised how many people will reply with "Yeah, you know same here.. what happened to you?" It kind of opens that dialog up a bit more.

Nearly 1 in 10 men experience depression and anxiety.

According to a poll of 21,000 American men by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly one in ten men reported experiencing some form of depression or anxiety, but less than half sought treatment.

Q: Do you have any suggestions or words of advice to give other men struggling with mental health?

A: Be open. Be honest. First and more importantly to yourself, because that allows you to be more open with other people. It is okay to ask for help and it is not easy to do it - but it's worth it. To be able to vent and not carry all of that weight, it's nice, it's such a relief. It doesn't make you less of a man. Like I said - I truly believe it makes your more of a man owning up to your own issues and things you want to work out. Because if you think there is an issue then it's something you want to seek help for, maybe it's something you want to pursue, & open up about. It took me 29 years to truly look in the mirror at myself and say "alright get it together, you are at your absolute bottom, you have no where to go." People shouldn't wait that long to seek help - when you start seeing the signs get help as quickly as you can. it can only benefit you. It starts with you, and once you listen to you and see yourself opening up becomes easier. And NEVER forget: It's not your fault.


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