The Importance of Men’s Mental Health

mens mental health

It’s no secret that life can be tough sometimes, but it might be a secret how much the men in your life may be struggling with their mental health. While depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues affect all ages, all nationalities, and all genders – men in particular are inclined to keep their feelings under wraps.

There has long been a societal stigma surrounding men and mental health. Men are told to “man up,” “suck it up,” and “toughen up.” But really all they’re doing is bottling it up. Emotions don’t go away because you don’t let them out, they just build under the surface like a pressure cooker.

It’s important to remember that to be a man is to be human, and to be a human is to feel. There are no masculine or feminine emotions. It’s not masculine to bottle things up and it’s not feminine to let things out. These stigmas have not only failed to help men get better, but they’ve actively made it even harder to be a man.

Regardless of your age, gender, job, ethnicity, or religion – you need to engage in open conversations with the people in your life. You need to seek and offer support

Men’s Mental Health in Oklahoma

Men's Depression Struggles

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, 1 in 5 American adults experiences mental illness each year. 592,000 adults in Oklahoma have a mental health condition. In February of 2021, 47.5% of adults in Oklahoma reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. 27.7% were unable to get needed counseling or therapy

Oklahoma is a low-income state and unfortunately this means a lot of healthcare needs go untreated. Of the 158,000 adults in Oklahoma who did not receive needed mental health care, 46.7% did not because of cost. 14.9% of Oklahomans are uninsured, and even with insurance, copays can get expensive. 

Additionally, 1,518,029 people in Oklahoma live in a community that does not have enough mental health professionals.

On average, 1 person in the U.S. dies by suicide every 11 minutes. In Oklahoma, 790 lives were lost to suicide and 132,000 adults had thoughts of suicide in the last year.

Understanding Men's Mental Health

Men’s mental health is an important but often overlooked aspect of overall well-being. While mental health challenges can affect anyone, men face specific issues that deserve attention and understanding. Understanding men’s mental health involves recognizing the common challenges they may face, acknowledging the prevalence of mental health issues among men, and addressing the unique factors that can impact their mental well-being.

Common Mental Health Challenges Faced by Men

Men often grapple with a range of mental health challenges that can impact their daily lives. Some of the common issues faced by men include:

Depression: Men may experience symptoms such as persistent sadness, loss of interest, irritability, and changes in appetite or sleep patterns.

Anxiety: Men can experience excessive worry, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and physical symptoms like muscle tension or headaches.

Substance abuse: Men may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with their emotions or to mask underlying mental health issues.

Suicide: Men are more likely to die by suicide, emphasizing the urgent need for mental health support and intervention.

Prevalence of Mental Health Issues Among Men

Mental health issues are prevalent among men, and it is essential to recognize the scope of the problem. Statistics indicate that:

Men are less likely to seek help for mental health concerns compared to women, leading to underdiagnosis and undertreatment.

Men may exhibit different symptoms or express their distress in alternative ways, making it challenging to identify their mental health needs.

Cultural and societal factors contribute to the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, which can prevent them from seeking support.

Impact of Societal Expectations and Gender Norms

Societal expectations and gender norms can have a significant impact on men’s mental health. Men are often expected to adhere to traditional notions of masculinity, which may discourage help-seeking behaviors or vulnerability. Some factors that influence men’s mental health include:

Pressure to be strong and self-reliant: Men may feel compelled to handle challenges on their own, making it harder to seek support when needed.

Stigma surrounding emotions: Societal norms may discourage men from expressing their emotions openly, leading to emotional suppression or disconnection.

Work-related stress: Men may face stressors related to work demands, financial responsibilities, and maintaining a successful career.

Understanding the unique challenges that men face in relation to their mental health is crucial in providing appropriate support and promoting well-being. By challenging societal expectations, fostering open conversations, and providing accessible mental health resources, we can create a healthier environment for men to address their mental health needs.

Signs and Symptoms of Men's Mental Health Issues

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in men is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. While the signs may vary from person to person, it’s important to be aware of the common indicators and how mental health challenges may present differently in men compared to women. By promoting self-awareness and understanding, men can recognize when it’s time to seek help and support.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Men may experience various signs and symptoms that indicate underlying mental health issues. Some of the common indicators include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Physical symptoms without a clear medical cause, such as headaches or digestive issues
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Withdrawal from social activities or relationships
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Differences in Presentation

Men may present their mental health issues differently compared to women due to societal expectations and gender norms. Some common differences include:

Masking emotions: Men may try to conceal their emotional struggles by engaging in distracting behaviors or expressing their distress through anger or irritability.

Reliance on coping mechanisms: Men may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or risky behaviors, as a way to manage their emotional pain.

Physical symptoms: Men may experience physical symptoms, such as headaches or muscle tension, as a result of unaddressed mental health issues.

Social withdrawal: Men may withdraw from social interactions or isolate themselves as a way to cope with their mental health challenges.

Encouraging Self-Awareness and Seeking Help

Self-awareness is vital in recognizing when it’s time to seek help. Men should pay attention to any persistent changes in their thoughts, emotions, or behaviors. It’s essential to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness. If you or someone you know is experiencing any signs of mental health issues, it’s crucial to reach out to a healthcare professional, therapist, or counselor who can provide support, guidance, and appropriate treatment options.

Strategies for Maintaining Men's Mental Health

Taking proactive steps to prioritize mental health is crucial for overall well-being. Here are some strategies that can help men maintain good mental health and well-being:

Self-Care Practices

Engaging in regular self-care activities can have a positive impact on mental health. Some effective self-care practices for men include:

  • Prioritizing physical health through regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.
  • Engaging in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as hobbies, sports, or creative pursuits.
  • Practicing mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises.
  • Setting realistic goals and managing time effectively to reduce stress and increase productivity.
  • Establishing healthy boundaries and learning to say no when needed.

Healthy Relationships and Social Support

Building and maintaining healthy relationships is essential for men’s mental health. Consider the following:

  • Nurturing supportive relationships with family members, friends, or partners.
  • Engaging in open and honest communication, expressing feelings and emotions, and seeking emotional support when needed.
  • Participating in social activities or joining community groups or organizations that align with personal interests.
  • Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, to explore and address any underlying emotional challenges.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms and Stress Management

Developing healthy coping mechanisms can enhance mental resilience. Consider the following strategies:

  • Practicing stress management techniques, such as exercise, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in activities that promote relaxation.
  • Avoiding or minimizing the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as excessive alcohol consumption or substance abuse.
  • Building healthy habits, such as maintaining a balanced work-life schedule, taking breaks, and engaging in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
  • Seeking support from others or attending support groups to share experiences and learn effective coping strategies.

Remember, mental health is a journey, and it’s essential to find what works best for you. Embrace the strategies that resonate with your needs and lifestyle, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help when necessary. Taking proactive steps to maintain your mental health will contribute to your overall well-being and enable you to live a fulfilling life.

Seeking Professional Help

When facing mental health challenges, it’s essential for men to seek professional help. Mental health professionals have the knowledge and expertise to provide the support and guidance needed for assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Here’s some information to help you navigate the process:

Mental Health Resources and Services

CREOKS Health Services
611 N. 4th St.
Stilwell, OK 74960
Phone: (918) 696-6212

Adair County Health Department
600 W. Hickory
Stilwell, OK 74960
Phone: (918) 696-7292

Crisis Text Line

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Assessment and Treatment

Seeking professional help allows for a comprehensive assessment of mental health concerns and the development of an appropriate treatment plan. Mental health professionals can offer:

  • Evaluation and diagnosis of mental health conditions.
  • Evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), or psychotherapy, tailored to address specific needs.
  • Medication management, when necessary, to support mental health recovery.
  • Guidance and support in navigating challenges related to men’s mental health, such as stress, anger management, relationship issues, or work-related difficulties.

Remember, seeking professional help is a sign of strength and a proactive step toward better mental well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, reach out to a mental health professional or contact Stilwell Memorial Hospital to schedule an appointment. Our dedicated team is here to provide the support and guidance you need on your path to recovery.


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