Men won’t talk about mental health and it’s literally killing them
BY MARK SERRELS
World Mental Health Day 2018: Men are less likely than women to discuss mental health issues and far more likely to attempt suicide. Can mobile apps help men save their own lives?
John* is in his 40s. He’s extremely successful and runs his own business, borne from decades of experience in his field. That business provides for his family.
John has a beautiful wife, four beautiful children, a beautiful home.
John also has depression.
The last six years, he says, contained some of the blackest days of his life. John kept quiet. This was a conscious decision. A business decision. “Nothing scares clients or investors quicker than the smell of desperation,” he says. “Saying anything about mental health is dangerous.”
Then there’s Alex.* He’s in his 30s.
When Alex was younger, he was sexually abused. Abuse he never reported, “for stigma reasons.” As a result, Alex suffers from depression and has for years. His wife knows about the abuse. She has no idea about his depression.
Alex was comfortable talking about the abuse. He wasn’t comfortable talking about its effects.
“I am the rock,” he says. “I am the stable one. Weakness is bad. Men are strong.”
Regardless of age, race, gender or occupation, we’re all susceptible to mental health issues. Some groups are statistically at greater risk of depression and suicide. People in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly young trans people, as well as members of the military and veterans, experience higher rates of depression and suicide compared with the general population.
Men, despite the advantages and privilege they tend to have, are statistically more likely to attempt suicide. In Australia, 75 percent of suicide attempts involve men. In the US that number is 78 percent.
Men are terrified of talking about their mental health, and it’s literally killing them.
Certain subsets are at an even higher risk: working-class men, men approaching middle age, men in rural areas. All are more likely to feel isolated, to believe that discussing mental health is a sign of weakness and statistically more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs.
“The number of men who die from suicide is three times the number who die in car accidents,” says Dr. Grant Blashki.
Read the full article to understand more about this phenomenon and options to help.
*Names are altered to protect confidentiality