These trying times have clearly highlighted the link between mental health and our overall well-being. Men’s mental health is an important – but often overlooked – concern in American society. While both genders experience mental illness, men face unique challenges in the pursuit of emotional wellness. Today, we’ve compiled a list of helpful everyday mental health strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How Men Experience Mental Illness
The symptoms of men’s mental illness depend on each person and their condition. However, there are a few signs that are more common and easy to spot. They include changes to mood or energy levels, irritability, aggression, feeling “on edge” or emotionally “flat,” and obsessing over thoughts or behaviors. Physical indicators of a mental health crisis are unexplained aches and pains, risky behavior, substance abuse, isolating from others, and changes to sleeping and eating habits.
Several different factors impact men and their experience of mental illness. They include…
Societal Expectations. Men’s issues may develop from the tenets of toxic masculinity. Traditional gender roles cause many young men to believe that they should:
- Avoid talking about (or openly displaying) their emotions
- Support the family, while not needing any support themselves
- Demonstrate masculine traits like control and strength
- Rely on others without outside assistance
Higher Suicide Rates. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, men are more than 3.5 times more likely to die from a suicide attempt.
Difficulty Seeking Help. Men are much less likely than women to seek help for addiction, trauma, and depression. Mental Health America asserts that a combination of societal norms, downplaying one’s symptoms, and a reluctance to open up can contribute to this phenomenon.
Prevalence. Schizophrenia (90% men) and substance abuse are key men’s mental health concerns. Depression, anxiety, and PTSD are more common among women than men; however, as stated above, men are much less likely to seek help.
Mental Self-Help for Men During COVID-19
Post-traumatic stress is a disruptive response to a life-altering event like COVID-19. Fortunately, research has shown that there is another potential outcome for survivors: post-traumatic growth. Among military personnel, firefighters, and EMTs, connection has the potential to transform troubling events into deep bonds. These friendships enable us to band together against a larger challenge. This approach is uniquely applicable for men, who often experience worsened mental health symptoms due to increased isolation and a reluctance to reach out or open up. Here are our top tips for fostering connection during COVID-19.
Get in Touch with Your Feelings
Men tend to repress their emotions; resist this urge and focus on feeling your feelings instead. During COVID-19, we are all feeling more depressed, anxious, and fearful than ever before. There’s no shame in admitting it. Journaling can be a great way to start analyzing your day (and how you feel about it) while still maintaining privacy. Once you become comfortable with identifying your emotions, you can start relaying them to others and asking for the right kind of mental health support.
Reach Out (To Anyone!)
Technology has allowed us to have deep conversations with our loved ones from halfway across the world. While you may not be able to see your parents or friends in person, they’re only a video call away. Whether you hop on the phone, send a text, or write a letter, try to be intentional about staying connected with your friends and family. Do your best to be open and honest about how you’re doing; you may be surprised by how much it helps.
You don’t have to be a meditation expert to benefit from some reflection. Many of us who have gone through addiction may find it difficult to think about ourselves. While looking inward can be uncomfortable, this type of check-in can assist you in identifying mental health issues before they spiral out of control. Take some time to understand yourself today.
Do Something to Help Yourself
If you’ve gone through treatment, you know that taking action is a vital part of recovery. You also know that it isn’t an easy thing to do. However, taking little steps to improve your life can make an incredible difference in your mental health. Think of meaningful ways to better your circumstances that don’t require a ton of effort, then start scaling up. Clean out your fridge. Run a load of laundry. Plant a small garden. Create a daily routine. Go to a meeting. Make a therapy appointment. These actions can transform your life.
Mental Health Support During the Pandemic
At PACE Recovery, we understand the challenges you are facing during this period of isolation, political unrest, and uncertainty. We’re here to help. Our men’s-only programming has transformed hundreds of lives over the years, and we believe that you can recover. To learn more about our mental health services, contact our Admissions team.