This month is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month.
As we celebrate all the men in our lives this Father’s Day and focus on their mental health needs this month, let us also remember that men’s mental health has alarming statistics. According to the National Institute of Health, men are diagnosed with depression at low rates, however, have higher rates of suicide and poor engagement with mental health services. Mental health shows up differently for men than it does for women. Most people associate depression with crying, sadness, and feelings of guilt, however, men’s symptoms typically include irritability, anger, hostility, aggressiveness, and risk-taking behavior in its early stages.
Men’s masculinity plays a significant role in these differences due to how men are socialized in society. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, men’s masculinity can become toxic due to how men are culturally trained and pressured to behave. The core tenants of this ‘toxic masculinity’ are toughness, anti-femininity, and power. Men can be conditioned to see themselves as strong or emotionally hardened, rejecting what they see as feminine traits rooted in emotion and accepting help. Toxic masculinity outlines that some men only feel worthy if they have money, power, and influence. This also can lead to unhealthy competitiveness in men and an overall feeling of emptiness.
Too often, men don’t talk about these feelings with others. Instead, they focus on issues that are functional, such as work or sex. Hiding behind these types of issues only exacerbates the emotional symptoms and causes many men to suffer in silence. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men. In 2021, men died by suicide 3.90 times more than women. This month, let's focus on how we can further support men’s mental health. Here are a few considerations:
If you are a man and reading this or if you know a man who needs to read this, please share that exhaustion and struggling in silence is not productive. Anxiety and depression symptoms decrease when we feel connected and seen by others. Accepting help can lead to better health and stronger relationships. You lose nothing and gain so much just by accepting help. If you have difficulty accepting help from others, start small. Make an inventory of the people in your life you trust and begin a new journey of acceptance of your human basic needs for connection.
Focus on your internal validation, not your external validation.
Strive to pursue your own needs and personal development. Doing a values inventory is a great way to learn more about what keeps you mentally healthy. Identify 5 - 10 values that embody who you are and create a professional and personal checklist on how you can get those values met on a daily basis. Follow your values and you will find your authentic self. I do this exercise with my clients often and I recommend repeating it every few years. It will help you hold yourself accountable to your needs, internal goals, and purpose.
Let it be.
Work hard on ending controlling behavior. Being threatened by others’ opinions, choices, and values speaks more to our own insecurities than to others’ acceptability. The only person you can control is you. Showering others with love and acceptance goes further than criticism and control. Focus on your growth and the world around you will inevitably change.
Be a Role Model.
The best way for young boys and men to learn to embrace their emotions is to see other men expressing themselves and being vulnerable. Men experience other feelings than just anger. Allow yourself to feel grief, sadness, confusion, and depression without suppressing these feelings. Young people witnessing other men manage these feelings in a healthy way gives them the allowance to do the same. Acknowledging all your feelings and knowing how to manage them in a healthy way profoundly benefits personal health, friendships, and romantic relationships.
For mental health support services, we are here to help. Contact us today.
About Evan W. Smith Funeral Services: Since 2009, residents of Wilmington, Dover, and the surrounding Delaware community have relied on the caring staff at Evan W. Smith Funeral Services to help them through their darkest hours. Family-owned and operated, the company offers an array of elite funeral care services, including traditional funerals, cremations, memorials, pre-planning, grief counseling, and more. With decades of experience in caring for families from all cultural backgrounds and diverse walks of life, Evan W. Smith Funeral Services is committed to creating memorable, uplifting experiences that always exceed expectations. For more information, please visit www.ewsmithfs.com.