Men's mental health matters remain an ongoing concern in Australia, yet many people don't know much about it. Statistics show that over the past year, 7.8% of Australian men had feelings of depression, while 10.6% experienced an anxiety-related condition.
However, only 3 out of 10 Australian men accessed mental health services. Stigmas like traditional masculine norms caused a reduced use of available mental health services. It's time to break free of these stigmas and learn more about them and how they impact you. Learning when and how to get the help you need is also essential.
In this guide, you'll learn what you need to know about men's mental health, including stigmas and barriers.
Mental health conditions don't discriminate and clearly impact men too. Men can experience a range of mental health conditions, most commonly:
While men can experience the same types of mental health disorders as women, there are key factors to address. These factors impact everything from how men experience symptoms to getting help.
First, it's essential to understand how mental health stigmas form around historical ideas about gender.
Gender differences in mental health appear between late childhood and adolescence. It's during this time when gender norms become engrained, and it impacts mental health perceptions about seeking help.
These perspectives become social norms that men are supposed to be tough and independent.
You can see these traditional perceptions play out on social media, making things even worse. Social media marketing, often pictures and videos, has long depicted images of masculinity associated with activities like alcohol, gambling, and having money and power.
Hormonal factors like low testosterone can impact mental health, causing depression and mood swings.
This is because testosterone plays a major role in men's bodies beyond sexual health. For example, men with low testosterone can also have low energy levels. This leads to a cycle of not exercising, gaining weight, and causing men to feel less confident in their appearance.
For these reasons, understanding how testosterone levels can impact your health and well-being is crucial. If you haven't checked your testosterone levels, don't hesitate to ask your doctor or speak with a TRT Clinic.
Although men and women can develop the same mental health disorders, they usually experience different symptoms due to the factors mentioned above. Common symptoms in men include:
It's also common to have difficulty sleeping and trouble concentrating at work. You may also have less of an interest in your usual hobbies.
Next, it's critical to understand which groups of men are at the highest risk for having mental health conditions. These risks include:
First, men over 85 have a suicide rate over three times Australia's national average. Much of this is due to depression and grief about changes in their lives.
For example, older men have grief about perhaps losing a spouse, their home, or some of their abilities. Because of gender stigmas, older men aren't as likely to reach out and discuss these feelings. They often feel like they have to deal with it alone.
Men who have experienced traumatic events are also at greater risk. This can include men who were victims of assault or who were engaged in military combat.
These men are at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD can cause you to relive the event and have persistent negative thoughts constantly. You can also feel angry, alert, or on edge most of the time.
Employment issues like poor working conditions or unemployment can increase the risk of depression and suicide rates.
Additionally, having a high workload can increase the rates of anxiety and depression.
Having financial worries can trigger the onset of mental health problems in men. Men are more likely to keep these issues to themselves, feeling ashamed or embarrassed about their finances.
Other serious life challenges like marital breakdown, divorce, and conflicts with family and friends can also increase risks. The illness or death of a close family member also has a huge impact.
Now you have the information you need; it's time to focus on breaking down these barriers and learning to recognize risks and behaviours.
Breaking down mental health stigmas takes time, but the first step is understanding when to seek help. There are certain warning signs you can look for in your own behaviour or someone else's behaviour. These include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek medical help immediately. Honest conversation can help break down these barriers if you see them in a friend.
If you feel at risk or are experiencing mental health symptoms, your first step should be starting the conversation with your doctor. You'll also need to take other steps that include:
Your doctor can evaluate the symptoms you're experiencing and do a complete physical assessment.
This is essential since health conditions like chronic pain, thyroid conditions, heart disease, diabetes, and auto-immune conditions can cause mood changes like depression. Therefore, ensuring you don't have any major health problems is the first step.
Your doctor can then recommend specialists like a counsellor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to help you with the next steps.
If you're seeking support for mental health and don't have a family doctor, you can see right away; there are various helplines and resources you can turn to for help.
They're also a great way to get other mental health resources.
Finding online mental health support is an excellent option if you don't have access to a family doctor. It's also best if you feel more comfortable talking to someone online rather than in person.
Online therapy gives you access to a variety of mental health therapists. You can filter your search to choose the type of therapy and how long your first session will be.
Online therapy appointments are much like in-person appointments. You'll begin by discussing your feelings and forming a plan for future sessions.
While working with a mental health professional is a huge first step, you must also work on supporting yourself.
Self-care isn't just for women; men can benefit from making small changes in their lives, like:
The first step to self-care is making key lifestyle changes. You can start this by looking at your daily diet and exercise habits and looking for ways to make small improvements. Remember, small changes lead to significant changes over time, so focus on realistic goals.
Diet and exercise changes can be as simple as eating more non processed foods with dinner and taking daily walks.
You should also look for ways to reduce stress and balance your life. Many men struggle with balancing family life and work life, so finding ways to balance this will help with your mental health symptoms.
Taking time to unplug, like not checking emails and text messages constantly, is a great step.
Working on mindfulness is also helpful. You can do this by writing down how you feel each day. This will help you to become more aware of your stress and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
The more you learn about men's mental health matters, the better you'll be able to manage your own mental health.
Don't hesitate to take the first step and talk to your doctor about any symptoms you're experiencing. Taking the first steps is the most challenging part, but you'll feel better once you have a plan in place.
Also, make sure to keep educating yourself about men's health and wellness. Tuning in to Men's Daily for informative and educational health articles is a great place to start.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare professional. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet, exercise, medication regimen, or any other health-related behaviors. Your personal health situation should always be overseen by a healthcare provider who can provide you with tailored health advice.