The Real Reason Why Men Don’t Talk About Mental Health

Mental health is serious. And in recent years, it’s been talked about more openly than ever. However, that still doesn’t mean that everyone is talking about it. Actually, men aren’t talking about it much at all. Why?

Young sad man sitting by the window

Men don’t always talk about mental health the way they should. | Marjan_Apostolovic/iStock/Getty Images

Men are less likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than women

It’s important to understand that gender does play a role in mental illness. In fact, mental illness strikes about one in five women but only about one in eight men. And more specifically, depression occurs nearly twice as often in women as it does in men. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, another common mental illness. It could be that men don’t report as much on their mental health simply because they deal with mental illness far less often than women. But that’s not the only reason.

Men are statistically less likely to talk about mental health than women

Besides having fewer incidences of mental illness, men are just generally less likely to talk about their mental health. According to the 2018 results from the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey based out of Ontario, Canada, not only is mental illness in young girls on the rise, but young girls are also twice as likely to report poor mental health compared to young boys. Instead, men were more likely to report issues of violent behavior and gambling.

Historically, violence and gambling sound like more male-dominant areas of behavior, which could explain why men feel okay with admitting to something of that nature but not admitting when their mental health is failing.

Men are taught to suppress their feelings and emotions, which could play a role in why they don’t come forward

Men’s Health published a 2016 article that tried to explain why men don’t talk about mental health. And based on several studies, emotions have something to do with it. According to the men interviewed by Men’s Journal (all of whom have dealt with depression for a while), they didn’t want to admit it because they saw it as a weakness. Often, men will try to hide any strong emotional problems because they don’t see it as masculine. But as a result, men may resist from getting the help they need for long enough that it eventually turns into something worse. They might turn to drugs, alcohol, or become suicidal. They might also become violent due to the pent up emotional distress.

You can get help for depression without telling the world you need it

There are plenty of people, especially certain celebrities, who have always been very open about their mental health. But the truth is, only the people to whom you are truly the closest need to know. Your partner, best friend, parents, or a licensed therapist — these are the people you need to talk to. Mental health can be a private issue if you choose, but it can’t be so private that you only keep it to yourself. Allowing it to manifest won’t cure it — it will only make it harder to deal with in the long run.

There are several steps you can take to get the help you need if your mental health has been struggling. First, tell a friend, partner, or confidant. The most important thing is to let someone know that you’ve been struggling. They will help you by checking in to ask how you’ve been doing or encourage you to speak to someone professional. It will only help you in the future. Then, work with your insurance company to find out which licensed professionals in your area can provide you with some insight and help at an affordable cost. Take steps with them to improve. Depression and other mentall illnesses don’t always need to be treated with drugs. You may find that working with a professional and being more open about your struggle may be enough to help you learn coping techniques and live a higher-quality life.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!