The mental health of men and boys is often overlooked, even though it can take a significant toll on their lives. When ignored, mental health issues can affect physical health and life expectancy. Untreated mental health conditions can lead to high-risk behaviors including substance abuse, gambling and other forms of addiction. Unheeded emotional problems can also cripple a man’s ability to fully function in society and within his family, and can even lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts.
Common Barriers Men Face When Seeking Mental Health Treatment
Given the prevalence of mental health issues and the dangers of ignoring them, it’s important to identify roadblocks men may face when they do want to seek help. Here are some of the most common misconceptions when it comes to men’s mental health.
Real men don’t ask for help.
It is common for men to resist getting help out of a belief that they should be able to handle a problem on their own, or the expectation that it should just go away on its own.
Strong men don’t have emotional problems.
The cultural belief that men need to be strong, never show emotion and hide signs of weakness is a crippling belief. Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD or even substance use disorder can create feelings of vulnerability, fear, insecurity and weakness.
Men who attempt to live by masculine stereotypes run the risk of suppressing their emotions, which can lead to ineffective coping. Problems with anger, over-working, substance abuse, or other forms of addiction (gambling, video games, etc.) can also occur. Men who isolate from others to avoid their feelings struggle internally, and their relationships at work and at home may also suffer.
A man of faith shouldn’t need therapy or medication.
A further hindrance to seeking mental health treatment is the belief that a man is weak in his faith or not living a moral life if he is experiencing emotional problems. This barrier can also include the idea that mental health issues are the result of personal sin or wrongdoing in the eyes of God. A common belief is that repenting of sin will resolve the mental health problem at hand.
This perspective minimizes the complexities of mental health struggles. Mental health can be influenced by any number of factors including chemical imbalances within the brain, past trauma/abuse, distorted thinking, relationship issues and even spirituality.
The reality is that most mental health conditions afflict people regardless of their level of faith or spiritual commitment.
Men Who Overcome These Barriers Find Hope and Healing
Despite the many barriers that exist for men who struggle with their mental health, there is still hope that men can successfully learn to cope with their issues and lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives.
Therapy is a great place to start! Men often find a surprising comfort in having a safe space where they can talk openly about difficult thoughts and feelings they have kept inside for so long. Many methods, including both counseling and medication, have proven to be effective in easing distressing mental health issues.
To learn more about counseling and outpatient services at Pine Rest, including teletherapy, please visit our Outpatient Services section.