Observing Men’s Health Month | Stigma and Mental HealthPat Fontana
June is Men’s Health Month, a time to focus on the specific physical and mental health needs of men and boys. Men and women are obviously different in terms of their physical health needs, but they also have different needs in regard to their mental health. In particular, men face specific challenges around stigma and mental health that must be overcome for their well-being during Men’s Health Month and throughout the year.
Men’s Health Month
In 1994, Men’s Health Week was created to mark the week before Father’s Day as a time to focus on the health and wellness of men and boys. The week was expanded to Men’s Health Month and includes an emphasis on mental health as well as physical health. Researchers have found that men die five years younger than women and die at higher rates from nine of the top 10 causes of death. When dealing with mental health issues, many challenges arise partly because of the stigma of mental health and partly because men may not have developed appropriate skills they need to be able to talk about their problems.
Myths About Men and Depression
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that men account for 3.5 times the number of suicides as women and depression is the leading cause of suicide. The organization offers five myths about men and depression. Dispelling and overcoming these myths can help men overcome the stigma of mental health challenges that may haunt them.
Myth: Depression = Weakness.
Fact: Depression has nothing to do with personal weakness. Depression is a serious health condition and must be treated as such, just as diabetes or high blood pressure are treated as health conditions. Men can actually show their strength by working on building supports to help them get better.
Myth: A man should be able to control his feelings.
Fact: Depression is a mood disorder. Sometimes you can feel “down” even when there is nothing to feel down about. You can’t always control how you feel, but you can work on ways to control how you react.
Myth: Real men don’t ask for help.
Fact: Trying to battle a mental health condition on your own is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain by yourself. Sometimes you just need help and it’s okay to ask for it.
Myth: Talking about depression doesn’t help.
Fact: Talk therapy is a proven treatment for depression. When you can talk about the issues that have been causing you so much stress in your own mind, you can gain a new perspective as well as develop effective coping skills.
Myth: Depression will make you a burden to others.
Fact: People in your life want to help you. They want you to be healthier. Asking for help does not make you a burden to anyone.
Overcoming the Stigma
During Men’s Health Month, it’s important to focus on ways to overcome the stigma of mental health, particularly when it comes to seeking treatment. Even when the myths are shown to be just myths, many men still see mental health struggles as a personal issue, a result of their not having the right, or enough, personal fortitude.
Even when men do seek help with their mental health issues, they may underreport the symptoms they are experiencing. One of the complications of an untreated mental health disorder is that it can also lead to substance use disorders. When you try to “treat” your mental health yourself, you may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which only makes the situation worse.
The stigma of mental health can keep you from getting the help you need to become a healthier man, physically and mentally. Your physical health can be affected by your mental health and vice versa. It is critical for you to reach out to a professional, be honest about the symptoms you are experiencing, and get the treatment you need to move forward with your life.
R&A Therapeutic Partners Can Help You Overcome the Stigma of Mental Health
As you are observing Men’s Health Month, it is crucial that you understand how the stigma of mental health can affect you and your loved ones. At R&A Therapeutic Partners, we support you and your mental health and coping needs, helping you find the path that works best for you. We offer telehealth and online therapy options during COVID-19. We encourage you to contact the Miami therapeutic consultants Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno to find out the services R&A Therapeutic Partners offers. Call us at 786-452-7352 to schedule your appointment.
At R&A Therapeutic Partners Raymond Estefania and Ana Moreno specialize in substance use and mental health disorder evaluations, treatment, intervention and therapeutic/educational consulting for clients throughout the greater South Florida area, as well as nationally and internationally. For more resources and information please visit Therapeutic-Partners.com or on Facebook.