Millions of Americans live with a mental illness. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five adults in the United States has been (or will be) diagnosed with a mental illness. And I am one in five. I was first diagnosed in 2001, at age 18, and about four years ago I began writing openly about my struggles with anxiety, depression, and OCD. And while I was nervous about publishing that first post (although I’m a writer, I wasn’t sure how the world would see me, as a husband and father of three, with a mortgage and a career), I was surprised at how well my story was received. There was an outpouring of love and support.
For the most part, it was the women who told me they had struggled with something similar or praised me for speaking so openly about my mental illness. But then I checked my private messages. There were dozens of men who almost always started the same way, “I didn’t want to post this publicly…” and then told me how they struggled with similar feelings. They also told me that my post was the first time they had seen a man so openly discuss something they struggled with every day. And I think this is exactly why awareness of men’s mental health is so important. It is not discussed. There is still stigma and shame. The subject is still taboo.
But what is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month and why is it so important? When it comes to ways to honor men’s mental health throughout the year, one dad explains the meaning of the month.
What is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month?
Designed for (and in honor of) men, Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month aims to bring attention to one cause: men’s emotional and mental well-being. “Men’s Health Month” [is] a national celebration used to raise awareness of men’s health care and encourage boys, men and their families to make and implement healthy lifestyle choices,” said the US Department of Health and Human Services.
When is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month?
Held each June, Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month is a way to put men’s health in the spotlight during the month of June. Hosted by the Men’s Health Network since 1992…the month is dedicated to enriching men’s health and wellness through a broad spectrum of national screening and educational campaigns, says Unicity Health Care.
Why is men’s mental health so important?
For many people, this could be another month to get better, but if you look at the statistics, it’s clear why Mental Health Awareness Month is so important for men. According to Mental Health America, “more than 6 million men are affected by depression each year,” while millions more live with anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and schizophrenia. “suicide is” [also] the 7th leading cause of death among men…nearly 4 times as many men die by suicide as women.” And substance abuse is a major problem. “About 1 in 5 men will develop an addiction to alcohol during their lifetime.” Mental health problems not only exist, they persist, which is why awareness is so important.
What can you do to support men’s mental health?
One of the best things you can do for men’s mental health is to speak openly about mental illness. Not to mention the obvious, but the overall goal of any awareness month is to raise awareness of an issue, and the reality is that many men suffer in the shadows. The ways in which men exhibit mental illness are also not often discussed.
“While there is no other type of ‘male depression,’ some symptoms are more common in men than women,” writes the Mental Health Foundation. “These include irritability, sudden anger, increased loss of control, risk taking and aggression. Men may also be more likely to use alcohol and drugs to deal with their depression than to talk about it. They may also engage in escapist behavior, such as pretending to deposit their work.”
Read more about men’s mental health issues. Learn the signs (listed above) and speak freely whenever possible. Knowing the signs of mental illness in men and how they differ from those in women, and discussing them openly are ways to promote men’s mental health.
What can men do to support and help themselves?
There are several things that men can do to support and help themselves. You can and should recognize the above signs. Being open and honest is also key, both to yourself and to someone with whom you have a close relationship. It is important to engage in healthy activities, such as mindfulness and meditation. And, if available, you should seek professional help. I am not the first man who has struggled to find the strength and confidence to seek help from a therapist and start taking medication for depression and anxiety, but once I did, I stopped trying to get my sanity back. condition and taught me to live a full and balanced life. I became a better person, father and mother. A better father.
it all boils down to
Ultimately, the overall goal is to shine a light on men’s mental health during the month of June, but for this to really work, this conversation needs to become a catalyst so that healthy mental health management can continue throughout. year. Because mental health is important. The mental health of men, and that of the father, also matters.