Why is Men’s Mental Health Important?

When it comes to Anxiety and Depression, research has found that it is less common amongst men but this may not be accurate, as with men, reporting symptoms and seeking help for anxiety and depression is less common (Affleck et al. 2018). The characteristics of masculinity, which uphold the ideology that men must be tough, must have self-control and self-reliance tend to mask the need to understand one’s own mental health and the importance of recognizing symptoms that affect mental health. The mask occurs because the symptoms are seen as being inconsistent with the perceived dominant features of masculinity(Affleck et al., 2018).

The common behaviors exhibited by Men/Males when dealing with Symptoms of depression or anxiety in the masculine perspective:

  1. “Acting out” rather than “Acting in”:

Research in regards to men’s mental health and the complexity of symptoms of anxiety and depression, that the mask of masculinity tends to direct men to act out their emotions, feelings, and other concerns. Such behaviors include and are not limited to poor impulse control, seeking out dangerous behavior, drug or alcohol misuse, becoming easily angry, and highly irritable (Affleck et al., 2018). This has been noted as “Masked depression”, which tends to occur and hide inner feelings of loneliness, sadness, as well as alienation (Affleck et al., 2018).

  1. Taking one’s life:

With the perspective regarding mens mental health in creating masked depression and its hidden nature, its been found that men tend to have a higher prevlance rate of suicide than women, which creates mens mental health as the silent crises as researchers have termed it (Affleck et al., 2018).

  1. The connection between culture and shame:

Once again, the hidden nature of men’s mental health can play a factor when one’s culture restricts discussing mental health concerns. Whether the culture is heavily reliant on masculinity or the shame that is assigned to the term mental health. With this as a possible factor, men may exhibit the behavior of further masking their mental health concerns to avoid shame, labeling, alienation from one’s culture/society/ and or family members.

Risk factors that give rise to developing or further amplifying anxiety and depression related concerns in men:

  1. Low job security and employment concerns:

Depression symptoms often tend to manifest when employment is at risk. This is due to job security and being able to act as a provider which has been deemed important in reinforcing self-identity, self-esteem and self worth from a “masculine perspective”.

  1. Family concerns:

Research has found that divorce can lead to further depression in men, as it may lead to loss of meaning in life as well as a potential loss of social support with regard to the context of the situation that leads to divorce or separation from their spouse.

Changes in family can also lead to new additions of life stressors such as having children and affected sleep, roles in the family, as well as a possible risk to financial related situations with regard to having children (Affleck et al., 2018).

  1. Utilization of mental health services:

Although there are a wide range of risk factors, the ones above are most common but the leading factor that maintains men’s mental health as a risk factor is the low utilization of mental health services by men. Men who experience mental health concerns often view seeking mental health services as a sign of weakness. The mask of masculinity often tends to be interrupted or harmed when seeking mental health services as this impacts the ideology that men need to be self-reliant, tough and have self-control (Affleck et al., 2018).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in regard to depression and anxiety:

CBT is a type of therapeutic approach that is found to be effective in treating mental health related concerns, with significance in depression and anxiety. Therapists may utilize this form of therapeutic approach with reference to the cognitive model in CBT therapy. The Cognitive model establishes that and aims to aid the client in understanding what they are going through/and or experiencing in relation to their thoughts, behavior, environment, and emotion. CBT informed therapy has a focus on cognitive restructuring or reframing, which involves working with the client through the use of talk therapy and tools to reframe the maladaptive thought patterns to adaptive thought patterns. Maladaptive thoughts are such thoughts that occur due to assumptions or “what if?” questions that occur in our mind that lead to creating futuristic thinking that may not be accurate or valid, but the belief in it can heighten anxiety and increase the sense of worry. Maladaptive thoughts can also be a reference to past events that the client is trying to fix, but this creates difficulty as the past is in the past and often it’s difficult to find a solution to the problem that had already occurred. Adaptive thinking is aimed to help clients think of the present, what is in their control at the present moment and what can they do that can help reduce the chances of future worry occurring. Adaptive thinking is often linked with a positive emotion vs maladaptive thought patterns.

This blog was written by Registered Psychotherapist, Shiwan Ibrahim and is not intended to replace seeking the support of a medical or mental health professional. If you, or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide or worsening depression, please encourage them to seek support. The St. Leonard’s Crisis Line is a 24 hour crisis line and they can be reached at 519.759.7188.