Suffering in Silence

Suffering in Silence: 1 in 5 American men would not reach out for mental health help, reveals survey

  • 28% of men admit they have reached for alcohol to help their anxiety.
  • Over half of men say not meeting friends during social distancing has affected their mental health.
  • 39% of men would avoid reaching out for mental help at the moment as they prefer face-to-face sessions than virtual therapy.
  • Infographic included.

According to a study by the CDC*, nearly 1 in 10 (8.5%) men across the US have experienced feelings of depression and anxiety on a daily basis. However, less than half (41%) have sought help from a mental health professional. With depressive symptoms manifesting differently** in men compared to women, men who are depressed may outwardly appear angry to their loved ones instead of downcast or sad. Men are also typically less likely to recognize and talk about treatment for depression.

River Oaks Treatment Center, a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center, conducted a survey of 3,040 men (aged 21+) across America that revealed more than 1 in 5 (22%) admit they would not reach out for help with their mental health struggles.

Broken down across the country, it was found that Alaskan men appear to be least willing to speak about their mental health with 50% admitting they would not reach out for help. Comparatively, men in South Dakota appeared to be most eager to talk about theirs with just 9% saying they would not ask for help.

The infographic below breaks down mental health statistics for men living in America.

suffering in silence with mental health

Some men who struggle with their mental health may use drugs or alcohol in an attempt to cope with their emotional symptoms. The survey found that over a quarter (28%) of men across the US admit they have used alcohol to alleviate their anxiety. Unlike other substances, alcohol is easily accessible in supermarkets and liquor stores across the country. Men may be drawn to the sedative – but addictive – effects of alcohol***, helping to distract from the depressive symptoms they may be persistently experiencing.

For some men, it may be more comforting to first speak to someone they know and are familiar with as opposed to a therapist or medical professional. The survey asked men who they would reach out to first if they felt their mental health was suffering and 43% said they would talk to their family members. Forty-two percent said they would reach out to their partner and 12% to friends. Just 3% would talk to their work colleagues.

This may also have to do with the difficulty of social distancing, as some people are opting to conduct meetings with medical professionals and therapists via video calling. In fact, more than 1 in 3 (39%) men say they would not reach out about their mental health purely to avoid virtual therapy sessions as they would prefer face-to-face meetings.

Interestingly, the survey revealed that 67% of men say they feel more comfortable speaking to women about personal problems.

During these unprecedented times of social distancing, being apart from family and friends can be emotionally difficult for many people, especially those who struggle with their mental health. Over half (58%) of men say not being able to meet friends during social distancing has affected their mental health in some way.

Lastly, when asked why they would not reach out for help about mental health issues, 46.2% of men say they don’t think it’s important enough, 30.3% said they would be embarrassed, 13% said they don’t want to be a burden to others and 10.5% said they wouldn’t reach out as they don’t want to be prescribed medication for their mental health.

“Recent studies have shown that the pandemic has had some sort of effect on many people’s mental health, and unfortunately, due to the stigma still attached to mental health conditions, there is a great number of individuals who do not, or will not, discuss it,” said Fran Myers-Routt, clinical director at River Oaks Treatment Center. “This stigma that exists silences many men, but there are certain signs and behaviors that may be indicative of mental health challenges. Men who are depressed may appear angry or surly rather than withdrawn and men who may have an anxiety disorder can exhibit a lack of motivation instead of shyness. An increase in alcohol intake can also occur in both of these situations. If there is a male in your life whom you suspect may be going through mental difficulties, expressing care, support and encouragement can be vital in helping them address their circumstance. Ensure that their well-being is important to you, that there is nothing wrong with having this health condition and that you are there to help them however you can.”

 

* https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db206.pdf

** https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/men-and-depression/index.shtml#pub1

*** https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/depression

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