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With June being Men’s Mental Health Month, it is a crucial moment to shine a light on an often overlooked aspect of mental well-being in the US: the mental health of men. While mental health challenges can affect anyone, regardless of gender, societal norms and stigmas can create cultural barriers, preventing men from seeking the help they need. It’s past time to break the silence, provide support, and create a more inclusive dialogue around men’s mental health.

Men are often conditioned to adhere to traditional notions of masculinity, which prize constricting ideas of strength, stoicism, and self-reliance. While these traits in themselves can be positive, they can also contribute to a culture where expressing vulnerability is seen as a weakness. As with any one-note stereotype, traditional ideas of “what it means to be a man” are limiting, leaving no room for human complexity and individuality. These stereotypes can set men and boys up to feel like failures when they have very normal and reasonable human reactions to challenges like stress or loss. And because emotionality is frowned upon in men, many suffer in silence, reluctant to share their struggles or seek professional help.

The statistics are dire. According to Mental Health America, male suicide rates have been on the rise since 2000, with suicide now the 7th leading cause of death for men in the US, and of those who die by suicide each year, 79% are men. In fact, men are more than four times more likely to die by suicide than women. And it doesn’t stop there. Over 6 million men suffer from depression per year, and one in five will experience addiction in their lifetime. All people, regardless of their gender, can experience challenges like anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. However, we don’t often think of men when we think about these issues, which can feel incredibly isolating for those experiencing them.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, men were less likely to have received mental health treatment or support over the last year. Support systems like peer groups or therapy have been more normalized among women and queer people, with many virtual services advertising to these segments. This is wonderful and a huge stride forward, but we mustn’t leave men behind. 

How You Can Help

This Men’s Mental Health Month, we encourage you to take an active role in supporting the men in your life, regardless of your own gender. Here are a few ways you can make a difference:

  • Listen: Just being willing to listen is incredibly powerful. Let the men in your life know that it’s okay to talk about their feelings, and when someone decides to share, provide a judgment-free space.
  • Encourage: Encourage the men you know to seek help if they’re struggling. Point them to local resources, like our Let’s Talk Tampa Bay navigation support line (Just call 844-YOU-OKAY, it’s free and confidential.), to help them find curated mental health support that fits their life, their needs, and their finances. Remember, it might take a few tries to find a therapist or support system that works for you.
  • Advocate: Advocate for mental health resources and emphasize the importance of men’s mental health in your community. Utilize accessible tools, such as the overview graphic from Mental Health America, to initiate this critical discussion. If you hold a position of influence in your family, faith community, or workplace, leverage your role to prioritize and advance this vital conversation.

Together, we can create a community where men feel empowered to speak openly about their mental health and seek the help they need. Let’s work towards a future where no one has to suffer in silence.

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