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Why Men Aren't Seeking Out Mental Health Care

MEN
MENTAL HEALTH
08 Jun 2022

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and each impacts the other. Mental illness affects more than 20 million adult Americans annually, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). As a result, more men are seeking out mental health care. More than 41 million American men will experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year But why aren’t more men seeking out this care? And what can we do to change that? As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Therapist at The Oaks Treatment Center, an adult inpatient mental health center for men in treatment for substance abuse and addiction as well as co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. In addition to my role there as a therapist, I also work with men from all over the world who are looking for help with their recovery from addiction. Here are seven reasons why most men aren’t seeking out mental health care:

Stigma Is A Big Problem For Men Seeking Mental Health Care

Image of a board with a self care is not selfish sign

While women are more likely to seek help for mental health issues, men are much less likely to do so, largely because society is much quicker to pathologize men’s emotions. Men are given the message that they should be self-reliant, stoic, and strong, and that seeking help is a sign of weakness. As a result, many men are afraid of being labelled as “crazy” or “weak,” and therefore don’t seek out help. This stigma surrounding mental health treatment is, in fact, so strong that it can lead some men to suicide. In fact, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US, and is the third leading cause of death in men ages 15-49.

Many Don’t Think They Are Ill Enough To Be Treated

It’s true that untreated mental illness can lead to more serious issues, but even psychological issues that don’t rise to the level of a disorder can cause significant distress. Many men (and women) think that if they don’t qualify for treatment, there’s no point in seeking help. But the truth is that going to a mental health professional is more like going to a physical therapist than going to a doctor. Many mental health professionals help patients manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life, even if the symptoms don’t rise to the level of a disorder.

Some Are Afraid Of The Stigma Associated With Treatment

Many men are concerned about the stigma of seeking treatment, but once they experience the non-judgmental and collaborative process of therapy, they become hooked. The good news is that most mental health treatments are completely confidential, and mental health professionals are legally bound to keep their patients’ conversations and records private. Many people think that therapy involves a patient sitting on a couch in front of a therapist, talking about their childhood. In fact, many mental health professionals now use an “active” or problem-focused approach where patients work on current issues using a collaborative approach. Many people have the misperception that they’ll have to take medication and/or go to a psychiatric hospital. The truth is that most mental health practitioners are not going to hospitalize patients, and many don’t even prescribe medication.

Many Think It Will Lead To Addiction Recovery Or Medication

 Image of a man curled up in bed

Some men avoid mental health treatment because they are afraid that their mental health professional will put them on medication or send them to an addiction recovery program. Instead of seeing mental health care as a “one size fits all” approach, keep in mind that every mental health professional is different. Some might send you to an addiction recovery program while others won’t send anyone to addiction treatment. Some mental health professionals don’t prescribe medication, and others only prescribe medication on a short-term basis.

Many Believe They Just Need To “Man Up” And Deal With It

In some cases, men don’t recognize the severity of their symptoms, and aren’t aware that they might need help. Most mental illnesses come with warning signs, and men can take steps to reduce the impact of their symptoms. Many men who could benefit from treatment don’t seek it out because they don’t want to be seen as “weak.” The truth is that men should be using their strength to get help, not to deny that they need help. People with mental illnesses can get better, but they need to get treatment to do so.

Lack of self-care habits

One of the most common reasons why men aren’t seeking out mental health care is because they aren’t taking care of themselves. Many people with mental illnesses don’t recognize the symptoms of their disorder, and are often too busy to take care of themselves. One of the best ways to prevent mental illness is to practice self-care. Taking time for yourself allows you to process your emotions, and prevents you from getting to the point where you need professional help.

Depression isn’t always obvious

It’s important to note that many mental illnesses don’t present obvious symptoms. Men who suffer from depression may not appear to be noticeably sad, which can make it difficult for others to recognize that something is wrong. Many people who suffer from depression feel as though they are to blame for their illness, and believe that they just need to “snap out of it.” In many cases, depression is a biochemical issue that can be treated with medication and/or therapy, but it often goes undiagnosed because people don’t recognize the symptoms.

Drug and alcohol abuse creates roadblocks to recovery

Drug and alcohol abuse is a huge problem in America, and many men who are in need of mental health care are also abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Many people who suffer from mental illnesses also suffer from addiction. This can be problematic because addiction can make it more difficult to treat mental health issues. One of the best things that people can do to get help for mental illness is to get sober.

Too much at stake

If you are too busy and stressed to take care of yourself, you may not be able to recognize that you need help. If you are struggling to take care of yourself, you may not recognize that you need help, and that you need to get treatment. Many men who suffer from mental illness work full-time jobs and are responsible for providing for their families. In many cases, it can be difficult to make time for self-care and mental health treatment, making it difficult to recognize that you need help.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that mental health care is a basic human right. Mental illness isn’t a choice, and it isn’t something that people can just “stop.” Many people can and do get help for their mental illnesses, and they can lead fulfilling and successful lives. Most mental health care is confidential, and people can get help without their employers and family members knowing. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness, there is help available, and you deserve it. You don’t have to suffer alone. Contact a mental health professional today, and start on the path to healing.

08 Jun 2022
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