Men’s Mental Health Checklist

It’s time for men to shake off the archaic stigma of men being “men”. It’s a shame, but many researchers find men worldwide experience an undeniable pressure to be perfect, as a “man’s man”.

Because of this, men are more likely to find opening up about their feelings challenging and are less likely than women to seek help for mental health problems.

Often unable to internalise their feelings, men often suppress their emotions so profoundly that they break out through violence or substance abuse. [1]

This pressure for men to act as providers, strong, unemotional, and practical, needs to vanish. Dangerous as it is, most men will have been told to simply ‘man up’ at some point in their lives.

Trying to live up to this old-fashioned “strong man” stigma often leads to feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, and increased risk of suicide compared to women. [2] These hazardous gender stereotypes need to be dismantled, so men will realise they need to look after their mental health just as much as their physical health.

The Opposite of the Species

It is an undeniable fact that men and women are different. We think, feel and act differently, especially in how we experience and process emotions. For example, when the symptoms of depression rear their ugly head, women are more likely to express themselves and talk about their feelings.

In contrast, men tend to adhere to the unemotional and unrealistic stereotype in keeping feelings of anxiety or depression to themselves.

Similarly, women often express feelings of depression as sadness. However, men are more readily found to externalise their feelings of depression through aggression. Unfortunately, their partners, family, friends and even GP may not recognise this behaviour as depression symptoms.

In total contrast to women, men are also much less like to realise that they are suffering from ill mental health, talk about it, or seek help for their feelings of depression. This is scary, considering the large number of men that suffer from depression. [3]

Men – Protect Your Mental Health

It’s essential to check in with yourself. It can be very for men to realise when they are suffering from ill mental health and need to reach out for professional help. Look for the warning signs of depression and mental health problems, trying to ask yourself the below questions to work out when you need support.

  1. Do the things that used to please you now bring you no joy at all? Do the same things bring you enjoyment? Have you stopped doing activities and hobbies you used to enjoy?
  2. Do social situations seem suddenly impossible? For example, are you unable to force yourself to leave the house to attend family events, birthdays, work gatherings, etc.?
  3. Have you become more withdrawn and less talkative than usual?
  4. Have you experienced increased levels of fatigue or sleep problems such as insomnia? An increased level of tiredness brought on by fatigue and linked with depression may cause you to stop doing the things you love, which often leads to excessive sleeping. Insufficient quality sleep can also lead to anxiety.
  5. Is it difficult to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention to films, books etc.? Does the thought of exercising fill you with dread? Do your limbs feel like lead, or has all your motivation for exercise up and left you?
  6. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for men, do you find yourself increasingly irritable, bad-tempered, or just plain angry? Do you find yourself going off on family and friends over minor things?

If any of these questions resonate with you, this could be a warning sign that you need to care more about your mental health. Just as taking care of your physical health is vital, creating a checklist to look after your mental health is just as essential. When a man’s mental health is not taken care of, there can be cognitive implications, just as there would be physical ramifications for poor physical health.

Don’t Bottle Up Your Feelings

Men need to share their feelings, even if they don’t want to. Abiding by this old age stigma regularly results in men struggling to open up about their feelings. Not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable, they often keep their mental health problems to themselves.

While gender roles may be changing as the world evolves, these stereotypes remain. If you answered yes to many of the questions above, then you could be suffering from depression. Please don’t ignore the warning signs, and especially don’t keep them to yourself.

Don’t stay silent. Research has found that this self-imposed silence can lead to acting out, externalising depression in aggressive ways, or resorting to substance abuse.

Showing your emotions or opening to your partner, family, or friends is not a sign of weakness, contrary to this old age belief. On the contrary, talking to loved ones about how you feel is essential in protecting your mental health rather than suffering in silence. You are not alone, and there is no reason you should think you are. [4]

Seek Professional Help

No matter your age, nationality, gender etc., it is ok not to be ok. Doctors and healthcare professionals are trained to help people and will there for you if you need professional help. In addition, your doctor will not judge you if you open about your feelings and mental health concerns.

This inbuilt need for men to hide their feelings and appear strong has plagued our society for generations, but you won’t experience it from your doctor or healthcare provider. Rather than allow this stereotype to damage your wellbeing, you must seek professional help if any of these signs of ill mental health resonate with you.

Your doctor can point you in the direction of any therapy available through the NHS. You can also find out more about potential help for depression through the NHS Treatments for Depression website.

Alternately, the charity Mind provides invaluable support for those suffering from depression through their self-referral service. If you can afford it, private counselling is also readily available.

It may feel tremendously daunting to take this step when confronted with your mental illness, especially as a man. But, if you can make yourself take this step, it can lead to you living a happier, better life and reduce the chances of depression causing a detrimental effect on a man’s life.