Men's mental health
It is estimated that 10.1% of Canadians aged 15 and older experience symptoms associated with a mental disorder.
Of these, it is observed that women tend to suffer from anxiety or depression while men are more inclined to resort to alcohol or drug abuse.
In fact, as many as 20% of men are likely to suffer some form of addiction in their lifetime compared to 7% of women.
Men are also more prone to suicide and account for 75% of suicides committed in Canada.
Different responses to depression
The signs and symptoms of depression vary greatly between men and women.
Women’s symptoms more typically include:
- A change in appetite
In men, the most frequently observed symptoms are:
- Risk-taking and impulsivity
- Escape behaviour and denial
Beyond these initial differences, the diagnosis of depression, its severity and the accompanying sense of helplessness are the same in both men and women.
The main difference between men and women struggling with mental distress lies in reaching out for help. Sex would seem to influence the impulse to seek support.
Generally speaking, women are more willing to talk about their feelings and seek help to overcome their difficulties.
Men, on the other hand, are less inclined to talk about their pain and refuse to acknowledge that they are even suffering. They tend to avoid seeking help and take a long time before realizing they need it.
Unfortunately, the longer they wait before seeking professional help, the worse the feelings of distress and helplessness become. This is a delay that can greatly deteriorate their condition and make the road to recovery longer and more complex.
Why are men reluctant to consult?
Men who suffer from mental ill-health often fear that others might view the problem as a sign of weakness or vulnerability.
By wanting to come across as being in control of the situation, they suppress their suffering, even though the symptoms will just end up manifesting themselves.
Men’s silence about their mental health problems is often attributed to persistent prejudices and stereotypes about masculinity that dictate that men are supposed to be strong and powerful, like superheroes.
Breaking down the stigma
As a society, we have to be more open about mental health. It’s the only way we can help end the stigma.
It’s important for parents to teach their sons to that it’s okay to for them open up about their problems.
Learning about mental health is the key to changing attitudes about depression and other mental illnesses. Eventually, we will view them the same way we do diabetes or cancer. Remember, suffering from mental ill-health is not a sign of weakness!