Millions of men struggle with mental health issues including, but not limited to, depression, anxiety, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. While less common, personality disorders and attention deficit disorder often go undiagnosed until adulthood, when primary and secondary education and childhood and adolescent relationships have suffered, providing a barrier to success in adult relationships and employment.
A stigma worth fighting against
Historically, addressing mental health issues in men has carried an unfavorable stigma, making men less likely to seek help or counseling via their primary care provider or a mental health specialist. Across some cultures, masculinity factors may act as a barrier toward allowing a man to discuss his feelings and concerns and get appropriate treatment for psychiatric illness.
As a man, you’re never at your best when the burden of mental illness weighs you down. Optimal mental health allows men to achieve greatness on many levels in their personal and professional lives. Mental illness can have a profoundly negative impact on work productivity, relationships, finances, hobbies and overall health. Men with mental health disorders have higher rates of complication and death from many common chronic diseases including atherosclerotic heart disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer.
Men continue to have higher rates of substance abuse and dependence, suicide and unemployment than women. This can cause or be caused by mental health issues. Veterans are at an extraordinarily elevated risk of mental health issues, often with limited resources and opportunities for engagement with a mental health professional who understands their unique needs and circumstances. Gay, bisexual and transgender men are more than three times more likely to experience a major psychological condition than the rest of the population — often hampered by the fear of disclosure and being discriminated against.
Many great resources are available to help men with mental health concerns. It’s time to do the true manly thing: Talk to your primary care provider today and the get the help you need and deserve.
Joel J. Heidelbaugh, M.D., President-Elect, American Society for Men’s Health, [email protected]