November is Men’s Health Awareness Month, a time to admire the preponderance of “Movember”-inspired facial hair, and playful subway ads bringing vital attention to men’s health issues. The Movember Foundation has included men’s mental health and suicide prevention in their official campaign this year. In honor of Men’s Health Awareness month, we wanted to take some time to talk about the particular mental health needs faced by men. People of all genders can face the same genetic, environmental, and psychosocial risk factors of mental illness, but according to the National Institute of Health, men are statistically more likely to die from suicide, and less likely to seek professional help for their mental health challenges.
Cultural and social norms have historically valued male stoicism and strength, possibly leading men to feel shame, or think that mental illness is a character defect. Further, men’s mental health symptoms present in complex and different ways, and can easily go unrecognized or misdiagnosed. Progress has been made in recognizing mental health as a part of one’s overall medical wellness, and acknowledging that getting help is a sign of self-awareness and strength, and not of weakness.
If you see someone struggling, reach out. According to the NIH, some of the warning signs of mental illness in men may include:
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Changes in sleep, appetite, mood, or energy level
- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
- Increased worry/stress, obsessive thoughts or behaviors
- Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs, or other high-risk activities
- Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions
- Aches, headaches, digestive problems without a clear cause
- Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
While our society has come a long way in de-stigmatizing mental health and prioritizing self-care including mental health counseling, there is still progress to be made. Look out for the men in your life and encourage them to get the help they need and deserve.
Feel free to visit us.movember.com for more information on the Movember Foundation’s campaign for men’s health.