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Mental Health & Men: Why We Still Need to Talk About It

Most of us are aware of the importance of mental health to our overall well-being in the 21st century, especially in the era of COVID, social media and the sharing of information that can often be negative, unfounded and heavily biased.

Current statistics about mental health in the U.S. are revealing:

Nearly 10% of Americans suffer from depression, with the fastest increase among teens and young adults.

More than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives.

20% of Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.

1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or major depression.

In addition to any predisposing biological factors, our external realities and stimuli can keep a constant press on our sense of peace, stability and interpersonal connection. Those variables can affect any of us, including those of us in Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Downers Grove IL.

Men and Mental Health

In spite of growing social awareness and acceptance of mental-health concerns, men still disproportionately lag behind in achieving diagnosis and treatment. Just a few observations about men’s mental health in the U.S. during the last several years include:

Women have been more likely to seek psychological help: In one study, only 36% of referrals to National Health Service (NHS) talking therapies were for men.

According to the American Psychological Association, 9% of males felt depression or anxiety daily; one-third of them used medicine as a result of their feelings, and 1 in 4 sought help from a mental health professional.

Young men often have to contend with more mental health–related challenges than at any other time in their life.

Although they do not seek support as often as women do, men are susceptible to the same range of mental health issues such as those linked to mood, anxiety, trauma or circumstances (e.g. unemployment, divorce, loss of a loved one).

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, in 2020 men died by suicide 3.88 times more than women. Males age 75 and older had the highest rate of suicide compared to other age groups (source).

When men do not seek and receive mental health support, their physical health can often bear the burden as well. Men who suffer poor mental health can exhibit symptoms such as weight gain or loss; rising drug, tobacco and alcohol use; and cardiovascular, digestive and immune-system problems.

How Traditional Masculinity Affects Mental Wellness

The reasons why mental health treatment can remain evasive among men are widely established, and we’ve become accustomed to them through time. Men worldwide have historically hesitated to admit having struggles and risk the vulnerability of opening up to another person about them.

Many men can still feel a pressure to be “masculine” by showing traits of:

steady control and quiet persistence

dominance, assertiveness and a willingness to confront

dependable provision with an established, gainful career or occupation

eschewing the weakness of admitting they have doubts and sensitivities

Many men have felt and believed that being stoic and longsuffering is required to secure social and economic status, attract the opposite sex and ensure the survival of family and self.

At the same time, traditional male self-perception has become more ambiguous in an era of rapid change including greater gender equality, two-income households and a cultural shift away from what “masculinity” once might have entailed or enabled.

Supporting Greater Men’s Mental Health Awareness

Men’s mental health has confronted both internal and external challenges, but there are always increasing opportunities for healing and growth, especially as we continue to establish social awareness and acceptance that mental health matters to all people, including men in Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Plainfield and Downers Grove.

Early detection of a developing mental health problem can be a great asset in helping a man to gain control of it. Family and friends can help men recognize and engage a need for treatment by watching for signs of struggle such as:

      • increasing anger and aggression
      • persistent frustration and irritability
      • substance abuse
      • thoughts or mention of suicide
      • reckless or escapist behavior

      • controlling or abusive behavior
      • difficulty concentrating
      • mounting worry or paranoia
      • too much or too little sleep
      • chronic headaches and fatigue

      We can also help men let go of an impossible standard of masculinity by encouraging them to embrace who they truly are: unique human beings who experience human emotions and can manage life’s unpredictability in productive, healthy ways.

      We can continue promoting awareness of mental health at a younger age as well. In addition to pressures to perform, achieve and fit in, today’s children and adolescents face an unprecedented flurry of images and information that can contend with realistic and balanced self-development.

      Young men also account for 90% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia under age 30. Early recognition and treatment can make a notable impact on quality of life.

      Hope and Mental Health Recovery

      If you are aware of a boy or man struggling with mental health, you can contribute to positive change by interacting with him and showing interest in his well-being. If he is inclined to discuss his feelings, be ready to listen. If he is not, that’s okay. You can reinforce that other resources are available to assist him in addressing his concerns.

      Depending on the situation, you might also show support by researching local mental health professionals and their specializations. You might even help schedule therapy, and if he desires, you can accompany him to his appointment.

      With the support and concern of loved ones and caring, trained professionals, men can take a broad step in relieving mental health symptoms and moving toward the stability and calm they desire.

      Support, Healing and Growth for Men: Contact Us Today

      Eunoia Counseling specializes in therapy for men’s mental health. If you or someone you care about is struggling, we can be the port in the storm that helps to navigate and overcome what might be interfering with peace of mind. To speak with a professional therapist serving Naperville, Aurora, Bolingbrook, Plainfield or Downers Grove IL, contact us at (630) 340-8747 or info@eunoiacounselingnaperville.com.