Men should take charge of their emotional health
Men, take charge of your mental health before it turns into…
Gender roles and societal trends ensure that men are traditionally portrayed as the stronger sex. They are more prone to giving greater importance to physical fitness rather than mental health. Men are less likely to introspect, and often ignore what can be potential triggers to mental health issues. Men display tendencies to stay silent, and are more likely to try not to acknowledge a “crisis” till it’s too late. Numerous researchers have recently stated that there is a silent crisis in men’s mental health. This is based on robust evidence that men have high rates of various mental health issues. Research indicates that many men fall victim to substance abuse in response to stressful life transitions, including unemployment and divorce. Indeed, the divorce rate in India has skyrocketed in recent times. This, coupled with negligible mental health service use, has led to our current state of crisis.
Evidence suggests that men are significantly less likely to use mental health services in response to a mental health issue in comparison with women. In other words, men who are suicidal or have substance abuse problems are much more likely to suffer in silence.
Why are men conditioned to endure mental agony silently?
Men have been so conditioned by conventional behaviour, that they refuse to talk about what bothers them, and do not feel comfortable discussing issues that make them upset or depressed. They are taught that they should not cry or express emotions freely, as it is unmanly and is judged as a sign of weakness. Although the rate of depression is lower in men, they are more likely not to seek help and may even be driven to suicide. For instance, men display symptoms of depression differently than women. l They may become irritable and snap at family members and colleagues irrationally. l Some take to alcohol or other substances. Excessive smoking and drinking that is not habitual, may be an indicator of stress. l Many men complain of back pain or headache, that may linger even after treatment. These may be symptoms of underlying anxiety, stress or depression. l Insomnia is common. l There may be instances of road rage and reckless behaviour. l Men tend to withdraw from friends and social activities. They are less inclined to going out and prefer to stay at home, sometimes binge watching television. l Some men may face a decline in sexual desire, and suffer impotence too. This may be a strong indication of high stress levels and depression. Most men see mental health issues as a weakness and refuse to take help. It is imperative that trusted family and friends take prompt action, and gently nudge them to seek help.
What can be done to improve men’s mental health?
The most important thing is to make it clear to the affected man, that it is alright to have issues, and that they can be helped. Make them understand that depression or other mental health issues are common and can be treated. It is important to persuade them
Research indicates that many men fall victim to substance abuse in response to stressful life transitions, including unemployment and divorce.
to see a physician who may guide them to seek professional help from a psychiatrist or counsellor. l Firstly, men’s mental health should be recognised as a social issue as much as a health issue, with attention being paid to issues such as unemployment and familial disruption. l There should be more choice in the formal mental health system, with more maletailored options that respond to men’s unique needs. l It is important to help the male child from a young age to talk and express their feelings. There needs to be a 360 degree change in the way men are taught to perceive manliness. Parents need to be conscious about inculcating ways and means in their male child’s psyche to learn, identify and express emotions in a healthy manner. l A strong social network is an ideal safety net that helps individuals remain happy and connected. A sense of isolation is the main culprit behind many mental health issues. It is important to have someone to reach out to in times of stress or impending depression. l Exercise has recently achieved the status of an anti-depressant. A healthy lifestyle may be key to keeping one mentally fit. Some food like dark chocolate, fresh fruits and vegetables have shown promise in managing mood disorders. Learning to use stress management techniques like meditation or yoga may benefit both physical and mental health. l It is as important to maintain mental health as important it is to see a medical doctor for a physical ailment. After all, sound health comprises a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Exercise has recently achieved the status of an anti-depressant. A healthy lifestyle may be key to keeping one mentally fit.