How “Man Up” Hurts Mental Health
Mental illness does not discriminate. It shows no preference for race, income, or gender. It’s still common for men who have mental illness to be teased, dismissed, or even told to “man-up” instead of seeking help. While most people would never think of performing surgery on themselves, many men feel pressure to deal with mental health issues on their own. Trying to do it on your own can be hard.
“Share your own struggles. It can help make someone feel less alone.”
Mental health is not a battle that can be won through physical strength or a stiff upper lip. Anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental illness do not respond to silent suffering. In fact, the most effective treatments involve talking in therapy and shining a light on those dark places many men are encouraged to wall off, shake off, or ignore.
The American Psychological Association estimates that nine percent of men experience depression or anxiety on a daily basis, and they are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. The American Psychological Association estimates that nine percent of men experience depression or anxiety on a daily basis, and they are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Pressure from society often prevents men from seeking help. Men also are more likely to deny they have a problem and use self-treatment (including drugs and alcohol) instead of seeking out professional help. This denial and secrecy can mean a wrong diagnosis of the problem, leading to care that doesn’t work and increased chances of suicide and self-harm.
If you believe a coworker or friend may be struggling, here are some steps you can take to help them find a solution:
- Create a safe space, so they feel comfortable talking about their struggles. Make sure they know there is no stigma attached to their condition or their decision to seek help.
- Don’t force it. Instead, provide encouragement and let them speak about their troubles at their own pace. Don’t force the issue or try to jump in with both feet. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Help them find resources that can help, like support groups, treatment, or someone they can talk to.
- Share your own struggles, if it seems like the right thing to do. It helps makes someone feel less alone if they feel like you understand.