Men Mental Health: The ‘Manning Up’ Narrative| The Stigma Around Men Mental Health

I hate to admit that this expression is in most cases used in wrong concepts. The idea that mental health concerns can be overcome by simply acting like a man is lame and misguided.

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Surveys across the globe show more men from all corners finding it hard to open up about their mental health issues; this is although they (men) are more at risk of attempting suicide in comparison to women. Today we look at the possible causes; is it the way we say it? Or the way we bring up our kids?

If you grew up in a blended family, as I did, or if you are lucky to have both sons and daughters, you are likely to attest that the way we handle our daughters is not the same way we handle our sons. And you are probably acknowledging this because they are two genders! Well, it is true. But what do we say to them? How do we teach them to cope with difficult situations in life? We teach them to be hard on life and often use the phrase, ‘man up’. But what impact does it have in their lives, in the present or the later days?

According to WHO, three times as many men as women lose their lives to suicide. The number is slightly higher in the developed/high-income countries according to 2018 WHO reports; 3.56 times more men dying from suicide than women.

The ‘Manning Up’ Narrative

“Growing up, you figure out really quickly how a boy is supposed to act. You learn what it takes to “be a man.” It’s like a playbook: Be strong. Don’t talk about your feelings. Get through it on your own. … These values about men and toughness are so ordinary that they’re everywhere … and invisible at the same time, surrounding us like air or water.” NBA player Kevin Love’s 

I hate to admit that this expression is in most cases used in wrong concepts. The idea that mental health concerns can be overcome by simply acting like a man is lame and misguided.

Almost all mental health disorders do not select the Y chromosome in the DNA to conclude whether to attack or not. Men are faced with similar problems as women, and again sad that more men die of suicide. Simply because they choose to man up.

In the African setup, women were not heard, and after civilization, the societies and leaders started the movements for the girl child, and with feminist campaigning for a better life for the girls, not to blast the feminists, but what about the boy child? Who hears the boy child?

If you are lucky to find support as a man, feel the need for supporting other men who may be in the position that you were once in. this goes to women too, yes men are strong but encourage men health talk to your family and friends.

The Stigma Around Men And Mental Health

Although you may interrupt to acknowledge that the stigma around mental health has no gender, mental health in most societal setups is perceived to be a “women’s issue” as it is depicted by the media and the social platforms that women are faced by more challenges compared to men. This concluded perception by society makes men shy away from seeking help or sharing issues where they choose to “man up” and stay silent to avoid being seen “as weak”. In minority communities with more risk factors of mental illnesses, the stigma is greater creating a silent pandemic of depression and other mental illnesses faced by men in silence.

Men find it difficult to share their feelings, struggles, and mental health issues than women. From my personal experiences, I have come across many blogs, talks, and ore of online content on mental health from women that I have seen from men. Or does it mean that all men are just doing fine mentally? No. we have seen reports from all over media men taking their lives from suicide three times more than the reports from women. Men of all ages;- young and old.

What Can You Do About It?

Any time is a good time. There has never been a better time to take action; accept yourself- seek help- be accepted – save yourself and your mental health. Recently I talked with a twitter friend (a friend I have never met), and I was reminding him that the first step is given in to yourself. That is if you are suffering from mental health, it might seem hard but it the easiest way to start.

Useful Ways To Tackle This Challenge;

  • The first step should be trying to find someone that you trust. This can be a close family member, or a friend, or even your doctor.

 

  • Try to think into reasons why you are having difficulties in seeking help and find out whether these reasons are stopping you from getting the help that you need

 

  • Invest your time in reading broadly about mental health. Read more about the varied guidance to mental health wellness and advice that is readily available. You can read threads and stories that will help you understand what other men go through in life.

 

  • Look for a support group. There are several support groups both online and community-based groups. For those who attend places of worship, there are support groups in churches for people with common grounds.

 

  • Identify your weapon tools to achieving your desired mental health. This could be a regular exercise routine, spending more time with friends and family, exploring your artistic side, among others.

 

  • Get yourself involved in activities and campaigns dedicating their time to raising mental awareness or generally giving your time back to the community.

Let us not wait until ‘no shave November’ to talk about men’s mental health. Through my campaigns on mental health awareness- both online and offline, I have talked with men of all backgrounds of life, ages, and with different mental health disquiets. And it is quite encouraging that more men are opening up about their mental concerns, and this should continue, where men should encourage more men to speak up!

Men Mental Health|CAN ALCOHOL REDUCE ANXIETY?

Can alcohol help in managing the anxiety symptoms? What is the relationship between anxiety and alcohol? Do people just wander around it to feel good or to find a solution to the specific issues at hand? In most cases, people suggest and conclude that they use alcohol to reduce stress or manage that particular monster in the head, or, as they put, just to ‘clear the head’. But, why do people rush to alcohol as a remedy for anxiety, depression, or stress?

The other day a friend of mine sent an online survey to a group WhatsApp on the pandemic, its impacts on education, and how it was affecting the mental health of the individuals. The answers were to be confidential, though one of the questions caught the attention of almost everyone from the group, the question was, I quote;

“Please mention three ways in which you are coping with anxiety caused by the uncertainty this pandemic”

kwisepsychology.com

kwisepsychology.com

And, so it became an open question of discussion with everyone sending their preferred answers to the group. Most of the answers were more or less the same thing. But one caught my eye which was (eating, exercise and consuming alcohol).

However, I will not reveal my answers here because, one, having a background on psychology my answers might be biased as I did not mention that I pop corn and eat ice cream while anxious. Two, the answers were confidential and I still do not have my consent.

Let Us Understand Anxiety First.

Anxiety is quite a normal response to stress that is beneficial to some life situations in the sense that it at times alerts us to red lights thus helping us in preparation and paying attention. The emotion varies from the usual feelings of nervousness to excessive fear or anxiety. Among the mental health disorders, around 30% of adults experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorders are very treatable, with several effective and right treatments and have helped most people get back to their normal lives. When you are in a position to differentiating anxiety from general fear, you will be in a position to manage it most of the time.

On the contrary, alcohol affects the nervous system which lies to you that it’s kind of managing your anxiety symptoms. Alcohol helps you in passing time, by making the anxiety disappear from your mind and not in reality.

Drinking Away Your Anxiety.

Using alcohol to reduce anxiety, stress or mental health disorders symptoms has not yet been recommended by anyone. The moment you start drinking when stressed or when not mentally stable, you start to de-focus from what is bothering you. You deviate your mind from solving the issues at hand and postpone them for some other time, making it even harder to embrace and manage your anxiety and stress.

How Does Alcohol Worsen Your Anxiety?

Alcohol has a reflective impact on the composite structures of the brain. it helps in blocking chemical signals between the neurons causing immediate symptoms of intoxication, slurred speech, slowed reflexes, impulsive behaviors, and poor memory. If drinking alcohol prolongs, your brain tends to adapt to the blocked signals by dramatically responding to neurotransmitters.

Next time you think of taking alcohol to suppress the animal within, remember it is better to solve the problem right away other than running away from your problems.

What Are The Signs That You Are Becoming Reliant On Alcohol?

Not able to quit alcohol intake

Dire need of an alcoholic drink whenever or before attending a social event

Intense alcohol intake for at least four days a week

Getting to drink alcohol before starting up your day

Can Alcohol Consumption Cause Anxiety?

Alcohol is the leading causing factor of dual diagnosis that is caused by the presence of an underlying mental health disorder alongside addiction to alcohol and other substances.

It is also a known fact that alcohol misuse does not only cause psychological health issues but also physical health.

Alcohol reliance puts you at risk of developing anxiety, depression, develop self-harm behaviors, become more violent, etc. alcohol is therefore not a cure to anxiety.

How Do You Lessen Your Anxiety?

Have a routine and be disciplined to follow it to the latter

Get enough sleep. The recommended sleep time for adults is 6 to 9 hours a day.

Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages as a remedy for your stress

Develop a habit of doing meditation and yoga consistently

Spare some time for recreational activities, remember work without play made Jack a dull boy.

Practice healthy eating and be more reliable

Remember to include exercise in your routine, more so the aerobic exercise.

You may also read more on Anxiety;

  1. Understanding Anxiety Disorder
  2. Coping With Anxiety Amid Pandemic
  3. Healthy Ways To Managing Anxiety and Boredom
  4. Drugs and Substance Abuse impact on Mental health 
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Men Mental Health| What Are Some Of The Common Men Mental Health Issues?

Culturally, men are known to remain in silence when they are suffering. More so due to social norms, upbringing, or even the role models presented to them in the early days of orientation. And for these and many more reasons, most of the men’s issues regarding mental health go unrecognized for a long time until it is late.

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From social dialogues we hear phrases like, ‘man up’, ‘accept and move on’, ‘pull up your socks’, meaning that the stressing issues should just be dismissed while in real sense they scotch from inside like acid. Mental health awareness is on the rise, but most men are not yet aware of the common issues that affect them.

 

 

Common Mental Health Issues Experienced By Men

Stress

Anyone can experience stressful situations that are relative from person to person. This is the feeling of being overwhelmed or pressure. In most cases, stress is experienced when there is an imbalance between what we are being asked to deliver and what we are capable of delivering or coping with these demands.

Stressful situations cause discomfort and distress can lead to the development of mental health issues in men such as depression and anxiety. Although stress in men is commonly associated with work life, it can originate from different life situations such as sporting life, family, or social fields.

When manageable, stress can be the drive to helping people to achieve and reach greater heights in life goals. This is the health stress. However, when it is too much to handle and we are unable to meet the expectations, or unable to deal with pressure and demands, then it becomes toxic.

Find out here different types of stresses:

 

Depression

This can be described as an intense feeling of sadness lasting for longer times than usual. It can last for weeks, months, or even years. Not only does it interfere with daily functioning but also physical health and general well-being.

Although depression can affect anyone of any age, older men are more prone to depression than women. Statistics also show that men are more likely to engage in unhealthy ways of fighting depression such as engaging in drugs and alcohol abuse, crimes self-harm behaviors, inflicting pain to others, and even suicidal.

Loneliness

The majority of us have been there, and now with the 2020 self-isolation thing, it makes us all have a rough idea of what loneliness can all be. But, only a few numbers do recognize the severity of isolation and loneliness can be. Loneliness commonly referred to as ‘social isolation’, contributes to a large portion of social illnesses such as substance abuse, violence, self-harm, and suicide.

Loneliness can happen when alone, with family or when surrounded by people; it is the primary feeling of sadness and lack of connection to the surrounding world (the feeling that you do not belong and no one understands you).

 

Anxiety

Although most people tend to normalize and dismiss anxiety as a feeling of being nervous and worried, it is a serious issue that affects your daily functioning. It can equate to a large impact on your physical and mental health.

Equip yourself on anxiety here:

What good news do we have for men’s mental health?

The good part is, most of the mental health issues affecting men are successfully treatable. The other thing is, there is plenty of information regarding these common issues that affect men daily that include different techniques and strategies to cope and recover.

Everyone goes through such situations from time to time; the only thing that can help is when you are aware of the red flags and taking a step of seeking help as early as possible. This can be the contact that you trust; – a close family member or a friend.