Breaking the stigma of men’s mental health


Gracie Moore, Reporter

Mental health is a sensitive topic as it is, but men’s mental health is discussed even less. The annual “no shave November” challenge actually began to bring awareness to November being dubbed men’s health awareness month. So let’s talk about an important aspect of overall health – mental health.

It’s difficult to break the ideals of past generations who don’t understand mental health the way that younger ones do. The open discussion of mental health is fairly new and mainly led by Generation Z and millennials. It’s more rare to see prior generations have the understanding that young adults do about mental health, but it affects them just as much.

All men can have mental health problems regardless of age. According to the CDC, men 85 years and older have the highest rates of suicide, so breaking the generational gap in awareness is important.

The toxically masculine norm that men must conceal their emotions in fear of being seen as weak could also be a leading cause in the lack of men seeking out treatment.

This stigma has to be broken.

The statistics surrounding men and mental health are alarming: men are four times more likely to die from suicide than women and suicide is the seventh leading cause of male deaths, according to Mental Health America.

Despite stigmas saying men should hide their emotions and deal with problems on their own, there’s no shame in needing help. People aren’t meant to handle heavy burdens by themselves.

There’s no question that taking the first step of prioritizing mental health is difficult for everyone, but men have an even harder time. There’s societal pressure and expectations along with the toxic masculinity and generational gaps.

But that first step is the most important.

The more men are willing to talk about mental health, the more productive conversations can take place. Paving the way for other men to feel comfortable and know that they aren’t weak for needing help is pivotal in lowering suicide rates in men.

Men also need women to use their voices in favor of normalization. Although mental health in general is a topic that needs to have more discussion, it’s more accepted to talk about it in regards to women because of the expectation that women are generally more emotional than men.

Those who can openly discuss mental health should use that to draw attention to those who still carry the stigma.

I think strength does have a correlation to mental health, but not in the way you’re probably used to. It takes a lot of courage to speak up about struggling with mental health, and even more courage to actively seek help.

Breaking the stigma takes resilience; there’s going to be people who don’t understand and don’t want to understand. Part of challenging these ideas is showing the people who believe them that the weakness often associated with mental health is nothing more than a stereotype.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, speak up. It isn’t a sign of weakness and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Speaking up and actively seeking help takes an enormous amount of strength.

There’s nothing weak about wanting to be better for yourself and proving to others that it is possible to get better.

Men can cry. Men can show emotions. Men can have uphill battles. You don’t have to fight in silence. You don’t have to “be strong” for those around you. No one’s strength or worth is defined by their struggles. Men aren’t the exception.