Why don’t men talk about their issues?
There are many organisations in Australia that focus on men’s mental health. All these organisations have one thing in common and it is that men struggle to talk about their mental health and their struggles, although this is the case for many men, some do talk about their struggles and seek help.
Mental health is a very important aspect of our health and well-being. Although it is more accepted now, mental health disorders are still viewed with stigma and shame. When it comes to men and mental health the statistics are shocking (5). In 2022, 9 Australians died by suicide per day, 75% of these deaths were males. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians 15 tot 44 (3). One of the possible reasons why more men die by suicide than women can be that more women seek help (5).
Society’s expectations and traditional gender roles can be a contributing factor why men don’t discuss or seek help for their mental health issues. Gender stereotypes that expect a person to act and look a certain way can be damaging to the man who struggles with mental health issues. Society traditionally expects men to be breadwinners, be in control and that they must always be strong, this view can make it difficult for men to acknowledge that they are struggling and prevent them from reaching out for help (4).
To ask for help when they struggle with mental health issues may let a man feel that he is not living up to society’s expectations for men and might give him feelings of inadequacy, shame, and feelings of worthlessness (1).
Wrench and Stein (2020), lists 21 excuses men make to not get help when they have mental health issues.
- There is nothing wrong with me (Living in denial).
- I don’t have a mental health problem.
- The issues I have are too complicated to fix.
- My issues are not too serious, I am in control.
- Everyone thinks I am in control; I cannot let them see the cracks.
- I am worried people will think I am weak.
- People will judge me if they know I struggle.
- I don’t want to be judged by a counsellor.
- I will not know where to start explaining my problems.
- I don’t want to be a burden on people.
- I talk to my partner; I don’t have to talk to anyone else.
- I always feel better after a drink or a good run.
- I don’t want to drag old stuff up, that will make me feel miserable.
- Once you start talking about mental health stuff, there is no end to it.
- I cannot afford therapy.
- I don’t want my friends to find out I see a counsellor.
- Just millennials talk about mental health stuff.
- The waiting time to see a counsellor is too long.
- I used to go for counselling, and it did not help.
- I am too busy to go to counselling.
- I have too many things to deal with, looking at my mental health must wait (6).
Although men appear strong or have excuses why they cannot get some help, there are some clear signs that they are struggling with their mental health.
- They often channel their pain as anger and aggression.
- He might self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.
- Showing reckless behaviour and taking unnecessary risks to hide his insecurity.
- Change in sleep patterns and appetite.
- Looking unkept and not worrying about personal hygiene.
- Complain about physical symptoms without clear cause of the problem.
- Making casual comments that the world would be a better place without him, or saying things are pointless or hopeless.
- He withdraws from people or activities he loves.
- There is a major change in his circumstances, for example, job loss, retirement, failed marriage or relationship (5).
Here are some guidelines to talk to a man about his mental health issues.
- Always remember that the conversation is about him and not about you.
- Do not force him to talk about his struggles if he is not ready to talk.
- Understand toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity refers to the set of cultural standards for men. These standards can have a detrimental impact on a man’s health and happiness.
- Encourage him to speak to somebody. Find a counsellor that he would feel comfortable to speak to,
- Find a safe space for him to talk about his struggles. He needs to be safe to be able to be vulnerable (2).
Although there are various reasons why men do not talk about their mental health and seek help when they are struggling. It is important to motivate men that they are not alone and that there is help available. Men needs to know that they will not be judged and there is no need to feel ashamed when talking about their mental health.
If you are a struggling, make the call and each out to get the help you need. It might be the most important call you made.
Corey Human has nearly 20 years’ experience working with teenage boys and young men at risk or struggling with self esteem, video game addiction and other problems. He provides counselling to adolescents, adults, couples, parents and families in both English and Afrikaans.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129
- Castle Craig, why is men’s mental health not taken seriously? https://www.castlecraig.co.uk/mental-health/why-is-mens-mental-health-not-taken-seriously
- Holmes, A. 2022, Tips for talking to men about their mental health. https://happiful.com/tips-for-talking-to-men-about-their-mental-health
- Lifeline, Data and Statistics, https://www.lifeline.org.au/resources/data-and-statistics/
- Mental Health Foundation, Men and Mental Health, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
- Prasad, S. Why don’t men talk about mental health? https://sprashadmd.com/why-dont-men-talk-about-their-mental-health/`
- Walcxuk, A. 2021, How to talk to the men in your life about mental health, https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/mind-body/a36750983/talk-to-men-about-mental-health/
- Wrench, S. & Stein, J.D.2020, 21 Reasons why men don’t talk about their mental health. https://www.menshealth.com/uk/mental-strength/a32401604/mental-health-myths/