Men’s mental health: 5 expert tips for battling the stigma

Jenine Butroid reveals her five top tips to help you reduce the negative perception surrounding men’s mental health.
stigma - men's mental health

It has never been more important to help men battle their mental health issues than it is now. According to the Office for National Statistics, of the 5,583 suicides registered in England and Wales in 2021, 74% were committed by men – statistically far higher than the results in 2020.

Jenine Butroid of Supporting Minds, a counselling service providing a range of professionally recognised training and therapy services, believes this is because, despite more people challenging the stigma in recent years and the growing opportunities for support, men are still experiencing shame and guilt that could make them less willing to ask for help.

Although mental health problems are extremely common (1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in England), there is still a stigma attached to them. For men, this often makes their issues very difficult to talk about. In fact, not only does this stop them from speaking to their loved ones about mental illness, but it also prevents them from addressing it themselves or seeking professional help. So, here are my five top tips on how you can reduce the negative perception surrounding men’s mental health:

Know the facts about men’s mental health

When it comes to things like mental health, knowledge is power. So, if you or a loved one is struggling, educate yourself (from reputable sources) about mental illness, symptoms and treatments. Being informed is the first step in getting the proper treatment one needs for emotional wellness.

Don’t buy into the stigma

Unfortunately, many of us buy into the stigma surrounding mental health. You may believe that mental illness is a sign of weakness and that you or the person struggling should be able to control it without help. In turn, you may maltreat yourself or others. However, seeking counselling, education, being kind to yourself and others, and searching for support from others is the only way to tackle mental health.

Choose your words carefully

The way we speak can affect the attitudes of others. When you accidentally let something slip around friends or in the workplace, the effects of your comment could affect someone without you even knowing about it. For example, using the phrase “man up” might mean nothing to you. However, it draws connotations with hyper-masculinity, which can be pretty detrimental to a man’s mental health by inferring it is unmasculine to ask for help. Being mindful of what we say is a great way to tackle the stigma surrounding men’s mental health.

Pass on facts and positive attitudes

Being on the lookout for opportunities to educate others is another great way to break down the negativity surrounding men’s mental health. This does not mean getting in someone’s face about it, but gently challenging people on issues regarding mental health by asking them questions or pulling someone to one side is an excellent way to go about it. Remember to help people understand that mental illness is a physical disorder that can be treated just as one would treat any other medical issue.

Treatment is the answer!

The most important thing you can do is get treatment for your condition or encourage those struggling to do so. If you broke your arm or caught the flu, you would book an appointment with your doctor to help you get better. The same applies if you are struggling with your mental health. Treatment is vital to bringing relief and reducing symptoms that interfere with work and one’s personal life. Remember to be kind and gentle when you or your loved ones seek treatment. It is never easy to ask for help. It takes a lot of courage to speak up, and you (and your loved ones) are worth the effort.

Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help

Asking for help is the first step towards getting and staying well, but knowing how to start or where to turn can be tricky. While there are many support options out there, you might find some are more suitable for you or more readily available than others. So, if you or a loved one feel you may be struggling, here are some of the tell-tale signs it is time to ask for help:

  • You are experiencing drastic changes in mood
  • You have had a drop in motivation and work performance
  • You are experiencing weight changes
  • You are having a bout of prolonged sadness, hopelessness, or anhedonia (a loss of pleasure and pulling away from things that used to provide enjoyment)
  • You are experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomach issues, which are all signs that you may need to seek outside assistance.

The next step is to reach out. There are many options for support, for example, talking to your friends and family, going to a GP or attending therapy sessions. There is no wrong order in which to try things, and different things work for different people. It can take time and may not be straightforward. But it is important to remember that you are not alone and deserve support.

1 The Office for National Statistics, 2022, Suicides in England and Wales: 2021 registrations

If you found this content helpful, you’ll find more about wellbeing for older men on our Men’s Health channel.

Tags: , , Last modified: November 24, 2022

Written by 10:27 am Men's Health, Health