The silent crisis that is literally killing men

Your mental health is inseparable from your physical health. I know it not a revolutionary concept, but what is astounding is the stigmatisation that still surrounds men who dare to talk about their mental struggles.

Men who are vocal about any kind of mental issues can be regarded as weak or inferior. As flawed, broken guys who are more likely to be ostracised for their honesty, instead of rewarded for their bravery. Instead of affording your fellow man compassion, we mock, belittle, and turn a blind eye.

We freely spit the phrase, “Man up,” as though your gender alone should be sufficed to guide you through your darkest times.

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The sad fact that 9 per cent of men experience depression daily. That’s more than 6 million men. Even if we understand what depression feels like, we rarely admit that’s the culprit. We lie and say we are tired or just cranky. More than 3 million men struggle with anxiety daily.

Of the 3.5 million people diagnosed as schizophrenic by the age of 30, more than 90 per cent are men. An estimated 10 million men in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetime.  We retreat from friends and instead drown sorrows in numbing substances. One out of every five men will develop an alcohol dependency during his life.

Male suicide is rising at such an alarming rate that it’s been classified as a “silent epidemic.” It’s the seventh leading cause of death for males.

That’s a staggering statistic. Drill down into the numbers and suicide is the second most common cause of death for every age group for men 10 through 39.

Our mental problems are literally killing us. And that has to stop.

This macho attitude of stuffing your feelings down, or ignoring them, is antiquated and downright dangerous.

  • It’s okay to not have your shit together.
  • It’s okay to feel depressed.
  • It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
  • It’s okay to be sad.
  • It’s okay to be anxious.
  • It’s okay to be scared.
  • It’s okay to not have everything figured out, to feel a wave of uncertainty come crashing over you and not know which way is up, or when your next gulp of air will come.

These are perfectly normal feelings that every man experiences.

And it’s okay to talk about it.

What’s not okay is suffering in silence.

A few courageous men have led the charge, exposing their plights to the rest of us. Singer Zayn Malik openly discussed his struggle with anxiety and his battle with an eating disorder.

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Kevin Love penned an op-ed entitled “Everyone Is Going Through Something,” chronicling his panic attacks.

When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently revealed his battle with depression after his mother attempted suicide when he was a teenager.

The key is to not be afraid to open up. Especially if you have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.

    --- Sean Evans, Digital Director of Men’s Health ----

For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tony

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