June marks the beginning of summer, the Father’s Day holiday, and a focus on men’s health. This month, men are encouraged to take better care of themselves, physically and mentally. Men’s Health Month features a number of activities designed to bring attention to the need for men to get checkups, to become more physically active, and to learn more about caring for themselves. A focus on men and mental health is especially important during these challenging times.
Men’s Health Month
Men’s Health Month was established in 1994, during the month of June to coincide with Father’s Day. The goal is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month gives health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury.
The focus on men’s health, and particularly on men and mental health, is critical. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion states that on average, men die five years younger than women, and die at higher rates from nine of the top ten causes of death.
Mental Illness in the US
Mental health can often affect physical health and vice versa. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (46.6 million in 2017). Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.
In general, women experience mental illness at a higher rate than men. However, the percentage of women who seek treatment for their mental illness is, in some cases, significantly higher. For example, NIMH statistics reveal that more women with serious mental illness (71.5%) received mental health treatment than men with serious mental illness (57.7%) in 2017.
Men and the Mental Health Stigma
Given the numbers regarding men and mental health, though, a disproportionate percentage of men contemplate and commit suicide each year. In fact, statistics show that men died by suicide at a rate of 3.54 percent higher than women in 2017.
In addition, 62,000 men die due to alcohol-related causes, as compared to 26,000 women. Men are two to three times more likely to misuse drugs than women. Depression and suicide are ranked as a leading cause of death among men, yet men are still less likely to seek treatment than women.
There is a continuing stigma among men about mental illness and substance abuse, even as more becomes known about the biological causes of both diseases. Many men still see their mental health challenges as a personal issue and attribute them to a lack of personal fortitude. They may feel pressure to be strong, rather than admitting they need help.
Men and Depression
The researchers at NIMH estimate that more than 6 million men in the US experience depression each year. Major depression has been found to be one of the most common mental disorders in this country. For some men, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with their ability to carry out everyday life activities.
If left untreated, depression can lead to personal, family, and financial difficulties. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, however, most people recover. The darkness disappears, hope for the future returns, and energy and interest in life becomes stronger than ever.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Men who are experiencing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, grief, bipolar disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might be tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Unfortunately, the use of drugs and alcohol tends to make the mental health issue worse. There has also been research indicating that men who are addicted to drugs and alcohol can be more susceptible to the effects of mental health disorders, such as PTSD.
Mental Health Treatment for Adult Men
Men’s Health Month is a good time to understand the relationship between men and mental health. Learn how to be a healthier you by reaching out to PACE Recovery Center. We specialize in treating men battling addiction or mental health disorders. Our team of physicians, doctorate-level clinicians, and master-level therapists can help you get on the road to lasting recovery.
During the coronavirus pandemic, our dedicated staff is taking every precaution to safeguard your health. Learn more about PACE’s COVID-19 response.