Men’s Mental Health in University
In the quieter corners of university life, a profound and often unnoticed struggle persists, affecting men from diverse backgrounds and ambitions. This struggle is an internal battle with mental health issues, shrouded in stigma.
While the fight against the stigma of mental health is ongoing, men’s mental health is a topic that often remains overlooked. In this blog, we will explore the reasons behind this stigma, how to identify someone who might be struggling, and the resources available for support.
Understanding the Stigma: Men’s Mental Health
Research reveals that 77% of men grapple with common mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Shockingly, 29% of them feel too embarrassed to talk about it, and 20% believe a negative stigma surrounds the topic.
Although this research surveyed 1,000 participants, many men from all walks of life continue to silently battle their mental health issues, avoiding professional help and discussions.
Several factors contribute to the stigma surrounding men’s mental health, and understanding these factors is crucial to breaking it down and encouraging people to seek help without shame.
Traditional Gender Norms
Men are often pressured to be emotionally stoic, discouraged from expressing vulnerability, and expected to be “strong” and “in control” of their emotions. These societal norms, ingrained from a young age, lead men to suppress their feelings and avoid discussing them.
Additionally, many men fear that acknowledging their mental health issues might make them appear weak in the eyes of others. These harmful norms not only affect their mental well-being but also impact other aspects of their lives.
Derogatory terms like “crazy” or “nuts” are carelessly used when addressing mental health issues, instilling fear in those struggling. This fear of being labeled with such terms prevents individuals from seeking help.
Lack of Representation
Men’s mental health lacks accurate representation in popular media. When portrayed, it is often inaccurately sensationalized or depicted negatively. This absence of positive depictions can make those who come forward feel abnormal, contributing to negative stereotypes.
Lack of Awareness
Lack of awareness about men’s mental health can lead to beliefs that men are less susceptible to mental health challenges. Unaware men may not recognize the symptoms of declining mental health, dismissing their own struggles, and worsening their conditions.
Gender-Specific Mental Health Differences
Men and women experience different types of mental health disorders. While rates are similar, men often face externalizing disorders, while women experience internalizing disorders. These differences are influenced by cultural, social, and environmental factors, alongside biological ones.
Spotting Someone Struggling with Mental Health
In the demanding university environment, it’s essential to recognize signs of mental health struggles in your peers:
1. Change in Academic Performance
If someone’s grades drop, they miss classes, become less active, or struggle to concentrate, it may be a sign of mental health issues.
2. Social Withdrawal
Isolation from social events and activities they once enjoyed could indicate a problem. Many people with mental health issues tend to withdraw from social interactions.
3. Sudden Decline in Interests
A significant loss of interest in once-enjoyable activities is a red flag. If someone shows this change, it’s worth paying attention.
4. Decline in Self-Care
Poor sleep, irregular eating patterns, grooming changes, and mood swings may reflect severe mental health struggles. Look for these signs.
Remember, not all signs are external, so if someone’s behavior drastically changes, take it seriously.
How to Help Someone with Mental Health Struggles
Supporting someone with mental health issues requires empathy and understanding:
1. Listen Without Judgment
Be a patient listener and avoid making insensitive remarks. Offer your full attention without jumping to conclusions.
2. Keep Questions Open-Ended
Avoid pushing for personal details. Instead, ask open-ended questions to let them share at their own pace.
3. Ask Them What Could Help
Everyone copes differently. Ask them what support they need, whether it’s a listening ear, support groups, or professional help.
4. Encourage Professional Help
Sometimes, your support may not be enough. Inform them of resources available on campus, such as support groups and counseling services.
For more information on how to support a friend with mental health struggles, you can read the complete article by the Mental Health Foundation.
Organizations like Samaritans and Rethink Support offer free emotional support and various services for individuals facing mental health challenges. These resources can help you find the assistance you need.
In conclusion, it’s essential for all of us to break the silence, challenge stereotypes, and create safe spaces for men to discuss their mental health. Together, we can normalize seeking help and celebrate the courage it takes to confront mental health challenges head-on. Let’s build a world where no one suffers alone, where asking for help is a sign of strength, and where the stigma surrounding men’s mental health becomes a distant memory.