Is Mental Health a Social Issue?

Mental health disorders affect a large percentage of the United States population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental health condition in their lifetime. As a result, most people have either experienced these disorders themselves or know someone who has, making mental health a pressing social issue.

What Constitutes a Social Issue?

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Sociology, a social issue (also referred to as a social problem) is:

“[A] generic term applied to a range of conditions and aberrant behaviors which are manifestations of social disorganization. It is a condition most people in a society consider undesirable and want to correct by changing through some means of social engineering or social planning” (2015).

Simply put, social problems occur within society, affect a wide range of people, and require help from policymakers and citizens alike to address the concerns. These issues have negative consequences for the majority of the population. Examples of social issues include:

  • Crime rates and prison systems
  • Domestic violence
  • Ethnic or racial tension
  • Sexual assault
  • Poverty
  • Unemployment

All of these are widespread challenges that need to be addressed as a collective whole. In other words, changes are not easily made on an individual level and need large-scale intervention.

Why Mental Health Is a Social Issue

Mental health issues affect more than those who have a diagnosed disorder. Loved ones, friends, and those who interact with people who have a mental illness all see the impacts of these diseases. Often, there are two leading causes of a mental illness: genetics and environment. Environmental components make mental health concerns a social issue as these disorders often occur in response to:

  • Abuse or neglect
  • Witnessing or being a victim of violence
  • Lack of consistency or support in childhood
  • Poverty, lack of resources
  • Housing insecurity

These factors all require societal reform in order to adequately address them, making mental health a public concern. Additionally, the U.S. mental health system needs to be better managed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), only 34% of those with mental illness received services to manage their diagnosis. There is an ongoing stigma associated with mental health issues, and this needs to be addressed by society as a whole.

Improving Social Support for Mental Health Disorders

Someone who has a diagnosis of a mental illness sees its effects in relationships, work, school, access to resources, and public perception. To improve how these people interact with society, we need to put better support in place. This includes:

  1. Creating early intervention and education programs
  2. Making mental health services available to more people through public funding
  3. Identifying risk factors to inform services
  4. Increasing public education on mental health to reduce stigma
  5. Advocating for policies to support individual recovery efforts (time off from work/school, comprehensive healthcare coverage)

Better serving people who have mental health conditions not only benefits this population — it helps communities as a whole function more cohesively. The U.S. Department of Health has a plan to improve mental health services as part of their Healthy People 2030 initiative. They are tracking each objective with the ultimate goal of improving health and quality of life for people with mental illnesses.

Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment at PACE

At PACE Recovery Center, we are consistently working to reduce the number of young men who have untreated mental health conditions. Our California treatment center offers multiple treatment options for teens and young adults who are managing a mental illness. We help men with mood disorders, anxiety, trauma, and other diagnosed conditions learn to manage symptoms while unpacking the root sources of their disorder through psychoeducation and therapy.

Our residential program provides intensive treatment while allowing our recovering gentlemen to continue their schooling through our PACE Academy program. If you or a young man you know would benefit from mental health care that promotes future independence, contact us today.


Scott, J. (2015). A dictionary of sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Effects of Growing Up in a Dysfunctional Family

No family is perfect, but those who have a severely dysfunctional family are at a greater risk of developing mental health and substance use disorders. Children who have relationships that lack consistency often go without the emotional support they need for development. The effects of growing up in this type of environment can leave a lasting impact on children throughout their teen and adult years, especially if they don’t receive the help that they need.

What Is a Dysfunctional Family?

Dysfunction can come as a result of abuse, neglect, emotional unavailability, or mental health issues amongst members of the family. Children who do not have their emotional or physical needs met often struggle to feel any sense of security. Those who experience these issues may not feel like they have anyone to talk to or feel protective of relatives. As a result, children often suffer in silence, internalizing the challenges they face. Toxic family structures can involve members within or outside of the home. Distant parents, grandparents, and extended relatives can all have an impact on the child’s emotions.

Growing Up in a Toxic Family Dynamic

It’s nearly impossible to grow up in this environment without it affecting a person’s emotions and behaviors. Some of the most common effects of a dysfunctional family include:

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Approval-seeking
  • Anxiety and intimidation (especially related to authority)
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Challenges with intimacy
  • Substance misuse, addiction
  • Inability to process emotions properly

Every person reacts differently to challenging situations, so your teen may display behavior outside of these listed. As a whole, teens and young adults who have been part of unhealthy relationships will likely exhibit challenges with expressing emotions, regulating behavior, and utilizing healthy coping skills. 

Because they’ve learned how to respond to difficult circumstances on the basis of survival, their behavior is consistent with the dysfunctional environment. For example, men who experienced manipulation in their early years are more likely to be excessively agreeable at the cost of their own needs. Adolescents who were victims of physical abuse may lash out in a similar way when they are frustrated. Though not healthy, these responses are natural given their past experiences. 

Mental Health Issues and Family Dysfunction

Teens and young adults who were exposed to an unhealthy environment at an early age exhibit learned behaviors that can develop into complex mental health issues. Those who experienced trauma connected with a family member may fear this person, resulting in anxiety and stress responses. Any type of trauma can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder which often brings flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, and avoidance of situations. Depression is common for men who experienced trauma, especially if they grew up believing they couldn’t talk about their emotions. Even after their situation changes, these effects can continue. 

Intensive Mental Health Treatment for Young Men

At PACE Recovery Center, we have seen how family dysfunction specifically affects young men. These teens and young adults often struggle with expressing and managing emotions, but our mental health treatment program supports them every step of the way. Our residential program offers intensive treatment with trauma-focused care, so they can process difficult family dynamics from their past. Many also turn to substance use to cope with their negative feelings. Because of this, we offer addiction and dual-diagnosis treatment to help each young man manage both diagnoses concurrently. If you or a young man you love would benefit from treatment for a mental health or substance use disorder, contact our admissions team today to learn about our programs.


Minullina, A.. (2018). Psychological Trauma Of Children Of Dysfunctional Families. 65-74. 10.15405/epsbs.2018.09.8.

Anorexia in Men

Though you might assume eating disorders primarily affect young women, the unfortunate reality is that people of all gender identities can develop disordered eating patterns and related issues such as body dysmorphia. Anorexia is a potentially deadly mental illness that affects an estimated 10 million men, according to statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association.

Men who have anorexia sometimes go overlooked because the symptoms present differently in men and women. Many men with eating disorders can benefit from gender-specific treatment to understand and overcome their anorexia concerns.

Understanding Anorexia in Men

During the teen years, young men become more aware of their appearance, sexuality and societal expectations. Adolescent boys who unfavorably compare themselves to the toned, muscular bodies they see in the media can become determined to conform to those unrealistic standards through diet and exercise, thus perpetuating harmful and obsessive patterns.

While anorexia in young women manifests primarily in losing weight by counting calories and restricting food choices, anorexic behaviors in young men might include:

  • A preoccupation with gaining muscle mass
  • Working out several times per day
  • Exercising even when sick or injured
  • Abusing steroids or other substances to build muscle faster
  • Low self-esteem and distorted body image
  • Holding themselves to unattainable requirements

Risk Factors for Anorexia

While anyone can develop an eating disorder, some men are more vulnerable to anorexia than others. For instance, men who have been victims of bullying about their weight from a young age, or who have experienced traumatic events such as sexual abuse or harassment, can become anorexic because it gives them a sense of control they’ve lacked.

Due to gender biases, men may be less likely to seek treatment for disordered eating. It might also be harder to get an accurate diagnosis because the traditional assessment tools health professionals use better reflect women’s symptoms.

Toxic masculinity plays a role, too – boys and men grappling with these issues could be afraid to admit they are struggling with a condition largely perceived as feminine. When they finally get help, they are often further along in their illness and could face severe health consequences, including malnutrition and even organ failure.

Start Your Recovery Journey Today

Men with disordered eating also tend to have high rates of co-occurring mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, substance use and suicidal ideation. That’s why it’s crucial to find a treatment center that emphasizes the therapeutic process and evidence-based methods.

At PACE Recovery Center, we provide gender-specific treatment that helps men break the stigma of asking for help and getting support for issues like trauma and addiction. We have created a safe, judgment-free environment where men aged 18 to 30 can begin to rebuild their lives. When you contact us, we will tailor a treatment plan that helps you address unresolved mental health issues and move forward with confidence.

Men’s Health Issues

Many men ignore their mental and physical health, which may cause them to develop preventable illnesses that take years off their lives. Having a preventive mindset is one way to be a better steward of your overall well-being. This Men’s Health Month, here are some proactive steps you should take to avoid illness and stay healthy at every stage of your life.

1. Get Screened for Heart Disease

Even if you have no apparent symptoms, you may still be at risk for high blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease. You can take an active role in your heart health by taking your blood pressure, getting routine checkups and being aware of your unique risk factors. Eat a balanced diet, quit smoking, stay active, reduce stress and take other measures as instructed by your health provider.

2. Work to Prevent Cancer

Common cancers diagnosed in men include skin, prostate, colorectal and lung cancers. A combination of a healthy lifestyle and regular screenings can help you stay cancer-free. To reduce your risk of various cancers, wear sunscreen, cut back on meat, quit smoking and talk to your doctor about other preventive measures.

3. Exercise Regularly

The physical and mental health benefits that come with getting in shape are well-documented, but you might still have trouble finding the motivation to work out. If you don’t already have an exercise regimen, use Men’s Health Month as your opportunity to start one.

  • Work out with a friend or partner – that way, you can keep each other accountable.
  • Choose an activity you enjoy. For example, if you’ve tried jogging and couldn’t stick with it, try swimming, biking, rock climbing or hiking instead.
  • Join a recreational sports league. Games like kickball and softball are an excellent way to get active. You’ll elevate your heart rate and burn calories without it feeling like a chore. You could even make some new friends along the way.
  • If it’s hard to carve out time in your schedule, try “exercise snacking.” With this approach, you squeeze in brief periods of activity whenever you have a few free minutes, instead of spending an hour in the gym each day.

4. Know the Signs of Depression

Some men are depressed without realizing it because the symptoms don’t always align with what they expect. Men may experience depression as anger or irritability instead of sadness and hopelessness. You might also prefer to try ignoring your feelings instead of exploring them. If you are having any mood irregularities, take the first step by speaking with a therapist or counselor.

5. Find Healthy Coping Mechanisms

If you regularly use alcohol and drugs to help you relax and feel good about yourself, you are compromising your health in more ways than one. These substances can change your brain to a point where you no longer feel like yourself unless you’re drinking or using. Long-term use will also put you on a path to addiction, cause significant organ damage and compromise your relationships with friends and family members.

Be Proactive About Your Health

You only get one body, so it’s crucial to prioritize your well-being by taking an active role in your health. Form a partnership with a therapist or general provider who can guide you toward recommended tests, answer any questions you may have and put you on a path to improved wellness.

At PACE Recovery Center, we address all facets of addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We’ve designed our Orange County gender-specific treatment specifically to empower men to experience the freedom of a substance-free lifestyle. Speak with our admissions team to learn more about how we can help you live life on your terms.

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