Men and Mental Health Stigma

HHRC-Psychologist supporting despair man

While the month of the Mental Health Awareness has passed, the mental health of everyone should still be discussed. And while there has been significant progress in the open discussion of mental health in the last decade, there is still a significant gap between males and mental health. The issue extends beyond the stereotype that men don’t want to express their feelings; stigma, male standards, and cultural influences all have an impact on how men think about, handle, and manage their mental health.

Although mental illness affects people of both genders, it is frequently missed among males because they are less inclined than women to talk about or seek care for their mental health. This is concerning in light of the fact that, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, three times as many men as women died by suicide in high-income nations in 2018.

These are not new challenges that males confront when it comes to identifying and treating mental illness. Expanding discussions on why men and mental health issues continue to go unnoticed, on the other hand, can help raise awareness of the problem and reduce feelings of guilt or “otherness” that many men experience when it comes to it.

Men and Mental Health Statistics

Men in the United States suffer from five basic mental illnesses, according to Mental Health America (MHA), including depression, anxiety, psychosis and schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.

  • 6 million: Over 6 million men in the United States suffer from depression each year.

  • 3 million: Anxiety disorders affect more than 19 million individuals aged 18 to 54, with over 3 million males suffering from anxiety, agoraphobia, or another phobia.

  • 90%: 90% of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia before the age of 30 are guys.

What Exactly Is Stigma?

In principle, talking about men and mental health issues with others should be as easy as talking about a broken bone or any other physical issue, yet stigma keeps many men silent. Stigma prevents males from not only talking to their loved ones about mental illness but also from confronting it and seeking assistance. Men’s mental health is influenced by a variety of stigmas, including social stigma, self-stigma, professional stigma, and cultural stigma.

Mental Illness Stigma in Society

Negative attitudes or assumptions expressed against a person or group facing mental illness are referred to as social stigma. This outward type of mental health stigma is founded on the notion that mental illness symbolizes a person’s character, as seen by the unfavorable opinion that “people who suffer depression are weak.” A person with a mental illness faces prejudice, avoidance, and rejection due to this misperception.


Self-stigma, also known as perceived stigma, is an internalized type of stigmatization. Self-stigma causes people to absorb unfavorable attitudes and opinions about mental diseases, leading to judgment and shame over their symptoms.

Professional Discrimination

Professional stigma arises when healthcare workers’ unfavorable attitudes encourage stigmatization of their patients. These views are frequently founded on fear or ignorance about mental illness’s origins and symptoms. Additionally, due to their job and connections with people who are suffering from mental illness, professionals may face stigma from the general public or other healthcare professionals.

Cultural Discrimination

Cultural stigma refers to how a person’s culture views mental illness. Culture influences one’s views, values, and customs, and it has a direct impact on how individuals interpret particular conditions. People’s willingness to seek assistance, the sort of treatment they seek and their coping style and support are all influenced by culture.

Discussions About Mental Illness Are Shaped by Masculine Norms

The brainwashing of male standards in US culture and society is another obstacle for men and mental health issues. Masculine norms are the social standards and behaviors associated with males and manhood in a specific society. Guys are not expected to display sadness, grief, or anguish, and to do so is the ultimate evidence of weakness or femininity, according to the terms “toughen up,” “man up,” “men don’t weep,” and so on (at times considered one of the same). Because of these masculine ideals, men are afraid of losing their masculinity if they seek professional care for their mental health.

Men are also less likely than women to seek therapy because they minimize their health problems due to the mental health stigma and a fear of talking about it. Men in America and men in many other countries are rarely trained or socialized to talk about their feelings or problems. It is, in fact, discouraged. On the other hand, most women are taught how and when to express themselves, while most males are excluded from the discourse. In terms of men’s mental health, this lack of emotional acceptance puts many in the dark: they are unwilling to speak about their problems, and some are unable to identify them.

Men with Dual Diagnosis: Mental Health and Substance Abuse

When an individual has one or more mental health illnesses and a drug use disease, this is known as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring condition (SUD). Mental health problems and SUDs frequently coexist because people suffering from a mental illness may self-medicate with substances, and substance misuse can exacerbate or even induce symptoms associated with a mental health issue. While co-occurring illnesses can affect everyone, some drug use problems are more common among men.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are more likely than women to use practically all illicit or illegal substances. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) affect one out of every five males at some point in their lives. Another source of worry is that because males are less likely than women to seek treatment for health and drug addiction issues, men’s mental health issues and other illnesses may be under-reported.

When Is It Appropriate to Seek Assistance?

If you’re concerned that someone you care about is struggling, or if you believe you need support yourself, we recommend looking for the following signs:

  • A shift in mood

  • Work performance differences

  • Changes in weight

  • Anhedonia, melancholy, or hopelessness (a loss of pleasure and pulling away from things that used to provide enjoyment)

  • Headaches and stomach problems are examples of physical symptoms.

If you notice any of these signs in a loved one, we suggest reminding them that asking for assistance is a show of strength, not weakness. Make an appointment with your health care physician or substance abuse professional.

Take Action for Your Loved Ones

Despite the stereotypes, stigmas, and individual risk factors that contribute to men and mental health issues, and seeking treatment, an increasing number of men speak up about their own experiences. Speaking up about one’s mental illness experiences immediately challenges the stigma around it, allowing others to speak up.

What matters most, regardless of social, cultural, or even self-expectations, is that people get the care and therapy they need for their mental health. The first step is to ask for assistance, and if you’re not sure where to begin, contact Rehab Centers in Nashville, TN, for additional information now. Haven House Recovery can be a perfect solution for you and your loved one. We are a Santa Rosa Beach-based rehab center with a 12-step Christian-based program to help men treat their mental health issues and recover from addiction. Reach out to us today and help you and your loved ones.