Unique challenges and societal pressures can impact men’s emotional well-being.
For men, decades of out-of-date stereotypes about what it means to be a man have made it embarrassing to talk about mental health care. “While society is making strides in recognizing the importance of mental health, there still exists a gender disparity in seeking help and addressing mental health concerns, said Ashley Zucker, MD, a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente in San Bernardino. “Men face unique challenges and societal pressures that can impact their emotional well-being.”
Men face a higher risk of suicide than women. According to the World Health Organization, more than twice as many men die from suicide than females. Societal expectations, stigma around seeking help, and reluctance to express emotions contribute. If you know someone who may be at risk of suicide, it can help to encourage open conversations, promote mental health awareness, understand mental health, and provide support.
Depression and anxiety affect both men and women, but men often exhibit different symptoms or may not recognize their emotional distress. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 6 million men in the United States experience depression each year. Men tend to underreport their symptoms, leading to a lower rate of diagnosis and treatment. It is important to be aware of male-specific symptoms, promote early intervention, and create safe spaces for men to seek help.
Men are more likely than women to abuse alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism for their underlying mental health issues, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This fact highlights the need for mental health and wellness support tailored to men, focusing on healthy coping mechanisms, support networks, and education.
Career demands and financial pressures contribute to stress among men. The American Psychological Association highlights that 27% of Americans are struggling with multiple external stressors that are out of their control. Stressors can lead to burnout, anxiety, and other mental health issues. The good news is that there are ways to cope with stressors by understanding and managing stress.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that men are less likely to seek mental health treatment. “Addressing men's mental health requires an approach that acknowledges their unique challenges and encourages a shift in the way they think,” said Dr. Zucker. “By prioritizing suicide prevention, recognizing and treating depression and anxiety, addressing substance abuse, tackling work-related stress, and promoting healthy relationships, we can create an environment that supports and prioritizes men's mental well-being.”