Men's Health Month: Let's Talk Mental Health


November marks Men's Health Month and as a result many articles are published focusing on men's health needs. Its a great opportunity to learn about healthy activities that can improve and maintain your physical health, but what about mental health.


According to Medical News Today, women are more likely to experience mental health conditions and attempted suicides, but men are more than 3.5 times more likely to die from suicide than women. While we realize mental health is an important factor for everyone, but in honor of Men's Health Month, we'd like to share the following information from Medical News Today. Click here for the full article.


Several factors increase the risk of mental health conditions and suicide among men. The following groups may be more at risk than others:

  • Older, white men: White men aged 85 years and older are most at risk of suicide. More men in this demographic die by suicide every year than in any other group by age, sex, or race.

  • Men who have experienced trauma: Traumatic events, such as engaging in combat or being the victim of an assault, increase the risk of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • Men experiencing employment issues: Working in poor conditions or having a high workload can increase the risk of mental health issues. Unemployment and retirement also increase the risk of depression and suicide.

  • Men who have had a marital breakdown: Depression is more common, and more severe, among men who are divorced. One study suggests that being single is a significant suicide trigger among men.

  • Men with legal or financial concerns: Having legal or financial worries can trigger the development of mental health problems and increase the risk of suicide.

  • Men who misuse alcohol or drugs: Men are more likely to engage in illicit drug use and alcohol use, which can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions.

  • Men with a family history of mental health issues: Many psychiatric conditions — including bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia — run in families, suggesting a genetic component.

  • Men dealing with other life challenges: Other risk factors for mental health problems and suicide include physical illness or discomfort, conflict with family or friends, and the illness or death of a family member.

Some of the most prevalent mental health conditions among men are:


Depression

Depression is characterized by a persistent low mood that interferes with everyday functioning. Worldwide, it is one of the most common mental health conditions.


Depression is almost twice as common in women as men. However, men are far less likely than women to seek treatment for it.


Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by intense and uncontrollable feelings of fear and worry.


The most common type, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), often co-occurs with depression. Although women are twice as likely to experience GAD, men are less likely to seek treatment for it.


Although many men are reluctant to seek and continue treatment for mental health issues, it is a vital step in recovery. With effective treatment, people can learn to manage their symptoms and begin to feel better. Some treatment options include:


Psychotherapy

Therapy can help people work through issues that have triggered mental health conditions. It can also help individuals manage their symptoms, change their negative thoughts and unhelpful behaviors, and learn new coping skills. There are many different styles of therapy. In order for it to be effective, it is essential that people find the right therapist and type of therapy for them.


Treatments can vary, but typically can include any of the following:


Medication

A doctor may prescribe medication to treat various mental health conditions or symptoms associated with those illnesses.


Lifestyle changes

Making positive lifestyle changes can make a significant contribution to mental well-being. For example, it is important to:

  • Eat a balanced diet.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Exercise on most days.

  • Manage stress through meditation or yoga, or in other ways.

  • Limit or avoid the use of alcohol and drugs.

  • Learn more about some natural ways to ease conditions such as anxiety here.

Peer support

Attending a support group or group counseling can be very helpful for those with a mental health condition.


There is no sure way to prevent mental health conditions. However, the following steps may reduce the risk of developing one:

  • Communicate with family and friends, especially during stressful periods.

  • Seek treatment promptly if any symptoms of poor mental health develop.

  • Continue with maintenance treatment to prevent relapses of depression or other mental health conditions.

  • Learn to manage stress through meditation, mindfulness, creative outlets, or other methods.

  • Practice positive lifestyle choices, such as eating well, sleeping enough, and exercising.

  • See a therapist for issues such as low self-esteem or childhood trauma, which could trigger mental health problems later in life.


There are several things a person can do to help a loved one with mental health issues. Look for changes in the person’s behavior and mood. These may indicate the development of a mental health issue. Talk to the person and ask them how they are feeling. This is especially important if they have just experienced an upsetting event, such as divorce, bereavement, or retirement. Encourage them to talk to their doctor or a mental health professional.


Having the support of loved ones can have a significant impact on a person’s recovery. Some research even suggests that some people who have suicidal thoughts but do not act on them choose not to do so because of the support of their friends and family.


Men’s mental health issues differ from women’s in many ways, yet they are just as important. One concerning aspect is that men are more reluctant to seek treatment for issues they face. The risk of suicide is also much higher among men.


However, seeking and continuing treatment can have a significant positive impact on the lives of men who experience mental health difficulties. Seeking support from health professionals and loved ones can ease the symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce the risk of suicide.


Many organizations offer support to those experiencing mental health challenges, and many focus solely on providing information and help to men.


Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP

Written by Jayne Leonard

Updated on November 8, 2020





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