Can Reducing the Male Stigma Surrounding Mental Health Reduce the Number of Suicides?

Posted on  June 18, 2018


It’s something that is never talked about, whether it is with your family, friends or your doctor. Mental health is inseparable from your physical health and is likely to impact one in five during our lifetime.

Depression, eating disorders, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are not revolutionary concepts, but there is a certain stigma involved when announcing them to the public.

Often viewed as a sign of weakness, many men would rather ignore the subject and let the situation escalate.  Even worse, these issues are mocked or nonchalantly ignored. This can lead to grave consequences, a matter that is serious to each and every one of us. No man is immune to a mental health illness; it can affect anyone at any given time.

More than six million men experience depression daily or are misdiagnosed as treating fatigue or loss of interest can often be an easier option to diagnose. Anxiety rates are rising; 19.1 million males between 18 and 52 experience anxiety, while bipolar, schizophrenia and eating disorders are becoming more prone among the male population.

It can become too much for many people who bottle up their feelings, often resorting to the dark light at the end of the tunnel as the only escape. Suicide is a serious matter and is becoming more frequent among the male population, particularly the younger generation.

The “silent epidemic” has become the seventh leading cause of death among men, with the suicide rates now statically ranked as the second most common cause of death among men aged 18 to 30. Rates have been increasing annually since 2000.

Reducing the numbers

Things have improved since the macho days of the 70’s and 80’s with a number of men now able to go to their doctors and speak about their problems, but it’s not enough. More and more people are either too apprehensive, frightened or avoid going to the doctor.

As a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states, there are ways to reduce the stigma which prevents the diagnosis of mental health.

To facilitate this, investment and discussion needs to be done at a young age to make children aware that it is okay to talk about their problems. Workshops with psychologists and teachers have been proven beneficial in helping youngsters to deal with their issues.

Implementing learning workshops within schools helps the younger generation with the stigma of a mental health issue and allows people to teach others the benefit of talking. Opportunities to pass on facts and positive attitudes about people with mental health problems will help others.

Men’s health charities are doing their bit to raise awareness. There is the Movember campaign in the United Kingdom and mental health awareness week (May 14 -20) is well advertised with campaigns to get more impacted people to seek medical help.

What can you do? If your friends, family, co-workers or even the media present information that is not true, challenge their myths and stereotypes of the illnesses. Negative words and incorrect descriptions that affect people with mental health problems will slowly help with the issues, potentially reducing the number of suicides.

Should the government and health authorities be worried about this? Are they doing enough to tackle the male stigma regarding mental health?

My answer is more can be done. Suicide from mental health issues is always going happen but helping reduce the numbers is something to aim for, even if doctors assign more medication to help.

The possibility of greater access to anti-depressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) has been discussed and can benefit the individual but how long can you rely on the artificial form of happiness?

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