June is Men’s Health Month, which does actually include mental health! Women’s Health Month was in May, and it makes sense in corresponding to Mother’s Day, and June for Father’s Day. With so many ills in our world, and changes in gender roles, responsibilities, and hope for the future for many, it is understandable that many struggle with mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, phobias, and avoidance. Men are no different, and in fact are usually less likely to report these struggles, for fear of how they would be perceived by their family members, friends, and colleagues. Here’s some shocking information: while women tend to attempt suicide more frequently (3x as much), men tend to succeed in ending their lives (3.5x as much), equating to 25 attempts to 1 completed suicide. Those are staggering statistics! In my practice, female-identified clients outnumber male-identified clients 2 to 1. That doesn’t mean that women are twice as likely to suffer from mental health issues, just that there may be less stigma in reaching out for support.
What is interesting, according to a study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, women tend to ruminate more on their own issues than men, as men tend to find ways to “solve” their problems. Men typically like to solve problems…fixing broken things, or breaking fixed things, as this study also found, as men tend to use more impulsive decision-making and substances to avoid or “fix” a problem. Which, coincidentally, is not good for overall health! Men are also less likely to seek out medical care for routine checks, or choose to ignore symptoms of significant problems. Men have higher mortality rates, lower life expectancies, and worse prognoses for various diseases, possibly related to the time at which an intervention was introduced (later introduction may yield less treatment available to stop or reverse the damage done). If you’re interested, here’s a link to an article discussing the differences.
So, how do we turn the tide of improving men’s outcomes by encouraging them to seek out medical and mental health treatment sooner? We educate! If you are a man, I would encourage you to think of the last time you saw a doctor for a physical (lab work included). If you can’t remember, GET THEE TO A DOCTOR! Our bodies tend to tell us through various metrics of issues that are lurking, including high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, irregular heartbeats/arrhythmias, high blood glucose, liver and kidney functioning, and levels of hormones (testosterone, thyroid, etc). The more you know, the more you can do. If you aren’t a man, but have a man in your life that you care about and would be significantly impacted if you lost them, tell them to GO TO THE DOCTOR!! The highest category of men that tend to complete suicide are those in the “middle-age” category (white males in particular), and often undiagnosed or untreated depression is to blame. Click here to see if any of these ring true for you or your loved ones. The earlier mental health and/or medical issues are treated, the better the outcomes. Period. It is not worth losing a life to something that is treatable because of the fear of what people may think. Superheroes are often disguised in shabby clothes, because they have been too strong for so long, they avoid recognizing the cracks that happen until they become too wide to be camouflaged.
If you or someone you love may be in immediate danger of death, please call 911, go to your nearest Emergency Department, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak with a crisis counselor. We’re here to help! Men, make your health a priority, so people that love you can continue to do so for a long time! #MensHealthMonth