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Man-Up: Dealing with Men’s Mental Health Issues

You must be wondering why the article would start with the term Man-Up which means “be brave or tough enough to deal with an unpleasant situation.” If you ever ask a man which situation he finds tough or unpleasant to be in most of the time, the answer would be to open about his clogged up feelings and mental health.  

Okay, let me ask you another question. When do we celebrate World’s Men day? Or why do we even celebrate it? Aren’t men the privileged class?.  To put simply, International Men’s Day is celebrated annually on November 19, worldwide. Its focus is on the efforts towards the welfare of men by making a positive difference and raising awareness of issues that men face.

International Men’s Day was inaugurated in 1992 by Thomas Oaster.

 

International Men’s Day includes topics around mental health, toxic masculinity, the prevalence of male suicide, promoting men’s health, improving gender relations, to name a few. For 2019, the theme is “Making a Difference for Men and Boys”. This day is providing the greater platform for raising awareness about an important global issue of men’s mental health.  

 

Some Important stats before we move ahead

 

7.5 % of the Indian population suffers from some form of mental disorder. India account’s for 15% of the global mental, neurological and substance abuse disorder burden, as well as one-sixth of India’s all health-related disorders- World Health Organisation’s 2018 report stated. WHO also predicts that by 2020, roughly 20 per cent of India will suffer from mental illnesses. And to cater to this demographic, we have less than 4,000 mental health professionals.

 

The report also highlights India is one of the countries with the highest rate of depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in the world. The US is the most mentally unwell.


5 Major Mental Health Problems Affecting Men

  1. Depression 
  2. Anxiety
  3. Bipolar Disorder 
  4. Psychosis and Schizophrenia
  5. Eating Disorder

 

Suicides and Substance Abuse

 

Indian Health statistics of 2018 shows that men are more prone to commit suicide than women which comprises to 70% of suicidal deaths. Around 9% of the males are prone to alcohol, whereas 32.8% and 1.1% to tobacco and other substances respectively.

 

The stigma around men’s mental health

 

In its 2018 report, the WHO stressed that cultural stigma is one of the key impediments for people to admit that they struggle to seek assistance, and that stigma is particularly strong along with men. 

Consider the following stigmatic statements:

  • Mental illnesses aren’t real illnesses
  • People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough
  • People with a mental health challenge can’t handle stress
  • Mental health challenges are an excuse for bad behaviour
  • Addiction is just a lack of willpower
  • People experiencing mental health problems are angry, crazy or “psycho”
  • People with mental health challenges are violent and dangerous
  • People don’t recover from mental illnesses

Masculine role socialization: Many boys learn at an early age that they are not supposed to express vulnerability. They are told to suppress most emotional responses, like crying.

Social norms: This may become such a habit that by the time they reach adulthood they may be unaware of most emotions aside from anger, one of the few culturally sanctioned male emotions. ManTherapy.org reports that 1 in 10 men suffer from intermittent explosive disorder or rage.

“Described in various media as a ‘silent epidemic’ and a ‘sleeper issue that has crept into the minds of millions,’ with ‘chilling statistics,’ mental illness among men is a public health concern that begs attention.”

Men may have different symptoms

Specialists also point out that men and women can experience different symptoms of the same mental health issues. This, they say, maybe partly a “side effect” of divergent views of mental health.

Different men have different symptoms, but some common depression symptoms include:

  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
  • Feeling anxious, restless, or “on the edge”
  • Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
  • Problems with sexual desire and performance
  • Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
  • Not being able to concentrate or remember details
  • Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
  • Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
  • Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
  • Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
  • Engaging in high-risk activities
  • A need for alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated

Seven Things You Can Do to Reduce Stigma

  1. Know the facts. Educate yourself about mental illness including substance use disorders.

  2. Be aware of your attitudes and behaviour. Examine your own judgmental thinking, reinforced by upbringing and society.

  3. Choose your words carefully. The way we speak can affect the attitudes of others.

  4. Educate others. Pass on facts and positive attitudes; challenge myths and stereotypes.

  5. Focus on the positive. Mental illness, including addictions, are only part of anyone’s larger picture.

  6. Support people. Treat everyone with dignity and respect; offer support and encouragement.

  7. Include everyone. It’s against the law to deny jobs or services to anyone with these health issues.

Things to Help in Reducing Mental Health Problem

 

  • Exercise : Research has shown that mental problems like depression in men have direct correlation with low testosterone in men. Thus  exercising daily, even a 30 mins walk have significant effect on  level testosterone produced in male body.
  • Effective Sleep : Researches have shown that effective sleep which includes quality and quantity of sleep, significantly decreases the mental health problems. Another study reveals that 87% of people experienced improvement in their depression and depression symptoms after 8 weeks of quality sleep.
  • Food : Food plays a significant role in our physical health, as well as our mental and emotional health. When you are struggling with depression, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think about eating the right foods. However, some of these small changes in your diet may help to decrease your symptoms and have a positive effect on your daily life. Food containing good quality of omega – 3 fatty acids and proteins are good for brain thus affecting overall mental health.

 

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