2. Nathan, 26: Never shy away from seeking help
“Although being depressed may seem cool to many people, struggling with major depression can destroy your life. It can ruin your career, your relationships and make you falsely believe that suicide is the only escape you have. This is why it is very, very important that you always talk to a doctor and seek medical help,” says Nathan, who has been diagnosed with clinical depression.
According to one 2011 study, depression is typically considered “a woman’s disease,” but the lower incidence of depression among men is mainly a result of “men’s tendencies to deny illness, self-monitor and self-treat symptoms, and avoid professional health care providers and services as a means to enact and preserve their masculinity.”
Researchers from a 2018 study, have also found that “Men seek mental health treatment less often than women.” Mental health help-seeking in men is far less than in women which can strongly affect their personal life, relationships, physical & mental health, and financial state.
“Men are more likely than women to terminate therapy early and generally have negative attitudes toward help-seeking,” adds the study.
Related reading: Why We Need To Stop Romanticising Mental Health Problems
When you are a man, it is difficult to admit that you are facing men’s mental health issues and seek help. We are programmed from our childhood to believe that we should be strong and deal with all problems to earn the right to be called “a man”.
So when we feel down, chaotic, and unable to deal with inner issues, our first instinct is to hide it. Instead of addressing our mental health issues, we put excessive pressure on ourselves to be strong and to ‘man up’. So it makes sense that we are afraid of seeking help believing that society will see us as weak.
“But we need to actively change that,” says Nathan. He adds “You don’t need to be afraid to seek professional help despite how scary it may seem. No one will judge you. It will not make you any less of a man. In fact, you will inspire others to get the help they need. Only a real man knows how to ask for help.”
3. Tyrone, 45: You are not alone
Feeling isolated and lonely is one of the most common symptoms of mental illness. Being burdened by mental health issues like stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, or depression, can make you feel that you are all alone which can drastically affect the way you interact with yourself and others.
“But do not believe for one second that you are actually alone. It is a false narrative that your mind feeds you. Influenced by your distorted thoughts, you start believing that nobody cares about you and you increasingly withdraw yourself from social relationships,” says Tyrone, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
If you feel alone and down, that’s okay. But make some effort to reach out to people you love and trust. Studies have found that “having a higher frequency of contact with family, friends, and social online networks contributes to reducing loneliness for all individuals.”
In fact, one 2019 study has found that fulfilling and meaningful relationships can significantly help to improve men’s mental health and well-being.
Globally, numerous men suffer from a range of mental illnesses, but as men are conditioned not to talk about their mental health problems, it usually goes unreported or undiagnosed. According to men’s mental health statistics, around 18% of men worldwide suffer from some form of psychiatric or substance use disorders.
About one billion people around the world experienced some form of mental illness in 2017. So if you believe that you are the only one struggling with such issues, then you are definitely not the only one. “And this is why we need to come forward and talk about men’s mental health openly and honestly,” suggests Tyrone.
Related reading: Why Men Who Cry Are Not Weak, They Are Stronger Than The Rest
4. Armando, 29: Mental health is different for everyone
“My definition of good mental health does not necessarily have to match your definition of the same. Each one of us have different life experiences and perspectives. We have different personalities and sensitivities. What makes me feel anxious might not even matter to you. So never judge yourself or your health according to how others define it. Your health depends on how you feel. The focus here is on you,” explains Armando, who is currently under treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).