June is a month focused on celebrating all types of people and bringing awareness to numerous causes. One of the most important campaigns we bring awareness to in June is men’s health. The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among both men and boys. This month gives health care providers as well as individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. According to menshealthmonth.org, on average, men die almost five years earlier than women and part of the reason is that men are more reluctant to go to the doctor than women. Physical health is not the only thing we focus on this month, a large part of men’s health is in regards to their mental health.
Due to the stigma created by society over the last few decades, it is common that men feel like they are forced to suppress emotions and should always appear as strong and confident. When men have feelings such as anxiety, depression, or self doubt, they stay silent and put on a brave face. Most of the time we do not recognize that men are fighting silent battles and need help or support. During Men’s health month, it is crucial that we share resources with the men in our life to let them know they can and should seek help and that they will not be judged for working on bettering themselves.
The first step to helping men is to recognize what their symptoms look like. Signs that men are struggling with their mental health show up differently than they do in women and it is important to recognize some of the red flags. For example, when men are feeling anxious or depressed instead of seeming sad or worried, they will often show anger, aggression, or irritability. Once you recognize that there is an issue it is easier to provide resources for help. Once a concern is identified it is important to act fast to provide aid and resources. Here are a few common steps you can and should take to support a man in need of mental health help.
3. Normalize seeking help
- If you can relate or feel comfortable sharing, let them know that you also struggle with mental health concerns and let them know if you seek treatment. Share what helps you and let them know they are not alone. Leading by example and making connections can help others feel less alone and more “normal”.
2. Validate Feelings
- When men do share how they feel, know matter how big or small, always validate their feelings. Let them know it is ok to feel negative emotions and to sometimes feel out of control. Nobody is expected to be the strong one every second of their lives, and sometimes we just need a break.
3. Be judgment Free
- It is most important to appear judgment-free during these conversations. Be conscious of your body language and facial expressions, as even the slightest sign of judgment can be discouraging. Make sure they know that your conversation is confidential and you are not going to bring it up again unless they wish to talk more. Creating a safe space can be the kickstart they need to get more help.
4. Give them their power back
- A big fear that most people have is the fear of losing control over their lives. In order to give back this power and control it is important to give men options and encourage them to take steps for help when needed. In less severe situations, Instead of saying “I am calling a therapist and making you an appointment tomorrow” you can offer options for them to choose. An example would be providing them the contact info of a few different therapists in the area, a support group for men, or a community center where they can get more resources. This way the power is on them and they have the ability to control how they want to get help. Plus, allowing them to play an active role in their journey will help them feel more involved and connected along the way.
Click Here for more statistics about men’s mental health. Connect with a provider at RIVIA Mind to access more resources and mental health support.