Mental health is important. In 2016, I was wheeled into a psych ward for suicidal ideation, at the young age of 14. A 14-year-old boy, sent to the hospital for entertaining the idea of suicide too much. Tragic, isn’t it? That being said, I'm proud to say that I’ve recovered and since gotten help with the support of my family.
Yet, this brings a much more crucial question to mind: How common is such a thing that seems so rare? Through this article, I plan to inform you about the problems men face in mental health, society, and seeking help.
Starting off, I wish to show those who perpetuate gender stereotypes what harm they’re causing. These past two decades, and surely before, have seen men suffering silently for the longest time. I was one of the lucky ones being able to get help at such a young age; a large number of men never seek help. According to this counseling website, of all the men with mental health issues, only 60% ever seek help, compared to the 72% of women who seeked and obtained such help. Consequently, men committed suicide 3.6x more than women according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Even worse, white males accounted for a whopping 69.4% of suicides in 2019. These statistics are a result of harmful actions by society and those who say men should suck it up. The idea that feelings are a choice, and that we can control them, can lead to so many problems. We can't ignore or suppress our feelings and those who say “Just be happy” or “It's nothing, stop exaggerating” make those suffering fall even deeper into their pits of despair.
An extremely irritating and unfortunately common aspect of this issue, is the disregard for men's mental health by those breaking traditional gender roles. Obviously, not everyone in those groups are at fault, but a noticeable majority continue the trend of toxic masculinity. They come across as two-faced when they empower women to break gender roles and then push men back into their roles. If we, as a society, are going to encourage women to break out of the confines of traditional gender standards, men can’t be ignored either. As a matter of fact, an article by The Guardian in 2016, showed that ⅓ of men waited 2 years, or never at all, to tell friends and family about their problems.
I believe one of the biggest misconceptions about depression is that it's temporary—that it’s just a bout of sadness soon to pass. It has a different name for a reason. Those fortunate enough to never deal with an illness like this will never know how it feels, yet most don’t bother to try and understand. Depression is laying in your bed unable to move, not having the energy to eat or drink, lacking motivation to clean your room or shower. If you have these misconceptions, I ask that you go out of your way to educate yourself. One of the best ways to get a grasp of it is by visiting the `Instagram account, realdepressionproject. Simply following and looking through some of the posts will provide valuable insight.
As a male who suffered from depression, anxiety, and PTSD I ask that we break the stigma for those struggling. The consequences of such a thing can last a lifetime, or at the worst, take one. Remember that words can seriously impact someone’s life, and it’s difficult for individuals to admit feelings such as these. It’s as simple as remembering that comfort and understanding are what helps, not forcing ideals and feelings.