Up until recently, “mental health” used to be considered synonymous with “mental illness.” This led to a dramatic lack of both awareness and treatment for those whose mental health was suffering, but not to the extent of being a disorder (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder).
In the modern-day world, mental health is now recognized as distinctly separate from mental illness, leading to more empathy, resources, support and a much wider variety of treatments so that everyone can find the ideal plan for themselves.
Despite society being significantly more aware of and far more open-minded to the discussion of mental health, there is still a disappointingly prevalent stigma surrounding men’s mental health.
What is the stigma?
The stigma surrounding men’s mental health is generally understood to be divided in two categories, the internal stigma and external stigma.
The internal stigma refers to the personal emotions and emotions the man is experiencing; some might even experience feelings of shame or embarrassment, leading them to further internalize (or at least, not address and/or seek help for) any struggles they’re facing with their mental health.
The external stigma is the culmination of prejudice, judgment and negative beliefs and attitudes that are directed to the man by others.
Both of these sides of stigma can lead the man to acquire low self-esteem and as a result, withdraw from his relationships and sometimes his social life entirely. Depending on the severity of his mental health struggles, major depression can develop and, for some, lead to suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Why don’t men seek treatment?
There are plenty of men who seek professional help for their mental health, but the majority of them don’t. Studies suggest that men are significantly less likely to seek treatment for their mental health issues than women (and considering how deeply the stigma affects so many men, the number is most likely substantially larger than we’re aware of).
The primary reason why men are more hesitant than women to address their mental health needs is because of the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, and harmful myths that continue to circulate around society.
Myths around men’s mental health
Mental health is important for men and women alike, and the more people who challenge the stigma and detrimental myths around men’s mental health, the healthier, happier and stronger they will be.
That’s why we’re going to challenge and break down the three most common myths around men’s mental health that continue to perpetuate the stigma.
Myth 1: Prioritizing mental health is a “girl thing”
Social media is full of tropical #mentalhealthday pictures and short videos of girls going for a run in the early morning before making themselves a green smoothie to sip as they journal in a new diary. This Pinterest-level depiction of mental health-care can look so aesthetic that it doesn’t feel real or that if it is, it’s definitely not for your average man.
While these videos are pretty, they only show half of the picture. Truly taking care of your mental health is getting to know yourself on a deeper level; going through the discomfort of growth and release; challenging old behaviors and mentalities in order to achieve more balance and a better overall sense of well-being. It’s definitely not all aesthetic, or restricted for girls alone.
Myth 2: Therapy isn’t going to work (“talking won’t fix anything”)
There’s still a stigma around therapy for a lot of men, the most prevalent one being that it doesn’t work, or that talking about your feelings isn’t going to accomplish anything. But therapy is so much more than that.
Going to therapy gives you a private environment to talk about what you really do or don’t want, but need to talk about with a qualified professional. Not only is it a judgment-free zone to talk, it’s also an opportunity to—brainstorm new opportunities, develop new coping mechanisms, eliminate self-sabotaging behaviors and establish a healthier, happier, more productive lifestyle.
Myth 3: Seeking professional support is a weakness (“real men don’t ask for help”)
Many conventional masculine norms are toxic, such as the promotion of consequence-less phrases like “boys will be boys” (which often encourages aggression, such as when a young boy hits a young girl and it’s societally believed to mean it’s how he shows affection). Even the restriction of natural behavior (like when a boy cries if he’s sad or happy, but he’s influenced to believe to cry means that he’s weak or he might as well be a girl).
Emotional vulnerability has long been considered a weakness in many different societies and cultures, and despite new conversations around masculinity and emotion, that false belief is still present in our society today.
In reality, acknowledging your personal struggles, recognizing that you need help, and actively seeking it, is an incredible sign of strength and wisdom.
Contact us for additional mental health resources
Our team at Silvermist Recovery is committed to providing a variety of personalized, proven-successful care plans designed to help identify, manage, and treat mental health.
We believe in a dual-approach to recovery, so combined with our extensive professional expertise, we pair a highly tailored, individual approach.
You deserve to thrive in your lifetime — and we’re here to help you do it.