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The Importance of Discussing Men’s Mental Health

Men’s mental health is a topic often obscured by stigma and silence. According to the Harvard Gazette, nearly 1 in 10 men will experience depression or anxiety yet less than half seek treatment. This is often due to cultural and societal influences that contribute to negative perceptions of mental health. Men who express their emotions are sometimes perceived as weak, leading many to be silent in their struggles. In certain communities, particularly Asian and Middle Eastern American communities, there is a belief that seeking mental health treatment will bring shame and dishonor to the family, further complicating the issue.

Men are also less likely to seek help for mental health than women – they cope with mental health differently –  so it’s important to shed light and stop the stigma on the topic to help them feel supported in everyday activities, seek treatment, and achieve recovery. To numb or avoid their issues, men are more likely than women to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, particularly substance misuse. By seeking out distractions instead of confronting their feelings, it becomes difficult for loved ones to see that they are struggling and need help, leading to the shocking reality that more than 4 times as many men as women die by suicide. 

This June Men’s Health Month, we encourage you and those around you to help foster a safe and more open conversation about men’s mental health. Talking about feelings not only helps improve overall well-being, but strengthens relationships with those around you. Mental illness that is unidentified or untreated can hinder men from fulfilling their roles as good friends, coworkers, and family members, but opening up about the impacts of stigma and the pain of mental health trauma can encourage others to provide support and create a more comfortable environment for talking about the realities of mental illness. As athlete and actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson says, “Asking for help is not a weakness. As a matter of fact, asking for help is a superpower.”

By addressing the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and encouraging open conversations, we can help create a supportive environment where men feel comfortable seeking help and taking care of their mental well-being. There are also many alternative coping mechanisms currently available to men to help identify and treat mental illness. Exercising, journaling, meditating, or joining a community group are just a few outlets for relieving emotions that might be bringing you down. Seeking help from a licensed professional is also highly recommended.

Speaker’s Bureau member Cameron Sykes says, “Meditation and hiking go hand in hand. Together they have been my biggest coping mechanism… I love finding waterfalls to hike. My two favorites are Alamere Falls in the Bay Area and Feather Falls in Oroville. Being outside in nature is the best time for me to practice ‘walking meditation’ where I can connect and ground myself while disconnecting from everything else.”

If you’re interested in sharing your story with everyday people in Sacramento County who are living with, or supporting someone else living with mental illness, join the Stop Stigma Sacramento Speaker’s Bureau.