Men are often encouraged to simply ‘man up’ when it comes to talking about their feelings or their mental health concerns (if they can even bring the topic up in the first place). With the stigma that sadly so often surrounds men and mental health, many males simply refuse to talk about issues that may be affecting them such as depression or anxiety, and instead force themselves to silently endure their problems. In doing so, some men go through their entire lives struggling to cope with the stresses and strains that affect them, and, in the most extreme cases, feel so desperate that they take their own lives.
Recognizing that everyone is entitled to the guidance, support and services available to those suffering from mental health concerns is vital if men are to get the help that they need.
What can men do instead of ‘manning up’ when it comes to their mental health?
Despite the stigma that still surrounds men’s mental health, there has never been a better time for guys to seek professional help for their mental well being. Ignoring a mental heath problem or trying to cope with it alone because you believe you should be able to as a man, is a recipe for struggle and may lead to a worsening of the condition.
If you’re a man and are suffering with your mental health, then while taking the first step to seek help may seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, it will likely turn out to be the best thing you could ever do. Once you’ve taken the first step, the rest of your journey should get easier and can lead to a multitude of better steps, too.
The first step in helping to heal yourself may not be the same for every man, but here are a few of the most common steps taken by men seeking to improve their mental well being:
- Talking to someone that you trust, whether it be a good friend, a close family member, a therapist, or a medical professional
- Be honest with yourself if you feel uncomfortable about seeking help and try to tackle the reasons behind this, otherwise they may well prevent you from getting the support you need and deserve
- Read up on mental health and try to learn more about what help is out there for you, and how you can access it
- Join a support group in your locality
- Do activities that you know help you to feel better within yourself, such as going for a run, meditating or writing down your feelings in a creative way.
- Find stories and case studies from other men who are suffering with their mental health
While taking one, several or all these steps is a great idea, they can never be a substitute for the help that a counselor can give you on a one to one basis. While you may feel better after talking openly about your concerns with a trusted person, or even feel invigorated after a session at the gym, these are not usually long-term solutions for any serious mental health issue, just as ‘manning up’ also isn’t.
Mental health affects us all, men, women and children alike, and gender should never be a barrier in seeking counseling as a path to a happier, healthier life.