Everyone knows that men don’t usually ask for help, right? When it comes to mental illness, research backs up that common wisdom. Dozens of studies conducted over several decades have found that men are less likely than women to actively seek out assistance in coping with mental illness.
Men may experience problems like highly stressful life events, depression and substance abuse at rates equal to or even greater than women. However, women represent two-thirds of mental health outpatient visits, according to the American Psychological Association.
Why don’t more men seek help?
Many experts blame societal expectations that men appear tough even in the face of great difficulty. After a lifetime of being urged to “man up,” men may become so out of touch with their feelings and emotions that they don’t realize when they’re suffering from a mental disorder.
Boys often learn from other children and from family members not to express feelings of vulnerability or caring. They become accustomed to subduing crying and other signs of emotion. Eventually, many men end up truly unaware of their emotions and are usually at a loss for accurately describing their feelings.
As a result, many men will not seek help when suffering from a mental illness. This reluctance to ask for help when needed can further damage men’s mental health and create additional difficulties for loved ones, experts note.
Men may experience mental illness differently
Various mental health conditions can manifest differently in men and women, and some disorders may be more difficult to detect in men, notes the University of Rochester Medical Center. For instance, men suffering from depression may seem irritable and angry rather than sad or down.
Additionally, men experience mental disorders uniquely. Although men in general are less likely to seek help, that reluctance is not biologically determined. Rather, men learn to seek help less often due to factors like their upbringing and socialization.
Helping men with mental illness
Men who are suffering from a mental disorder should understand that there is no shame in seeking treatment. In addition, treatment such as counseling or medication can help with leading a productive, healthy life.
To overcome difficulty in communicating about emotions, men should consider the following steps:
- Finding healthy ways of sharing feelings rather than completely shutting down or lashing out in anger.
- Exercising regularly to relieve symptoms of mood disorders like depression.
- Managing stress by focusing on enjoyable activities and relaxation techniques.
- Practicing self-care by eating well, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and getting enough sleep.
Loved ones and friends can help by stressing that seeking help for mental illness is just like seeking medical attention for any physical illness.
Understanding reluctance is key
For men suffering with mental illness, hesitancy to seek help can cause serious problems with jobs, relationships and overall health and wellness. Encouraging more men to get appropriate treatment will require effective and consistent communication of an important message: Mental health therapy is normal and desirable for anyone regardless of their age or gender.
Pasadena Villa programs set out to create a comfortable environment while promoting mental health and a socially fulfilling future. We wholeheartedly believe in treating everyone with compassion, and our programs are designed in ways that preserve and protect their dignity. We use every opportunity to increase the self-confidence of our residents as they learn new and different ways to cope with the real world.
Our mental health professionals observe residents in actual social situations and incorporate observations made directly into their ongoing treatment plan. It is this personalized attention that makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate, relevant and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other residential mental health programs available for young adults.
The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-574-5190 for more information.