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The stigma surrounding men's mental health

The stigma surrounding men's mental health

Published on Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Posted in News

Did you know suicide is the leading killer of men under 50 in Northern Ireland? 

In fact, 1 in 3 men in the UK have had suicidal thoughts as a result of feeling stressed, a stark figure that highlights the need to stand up to the stigma surrounding men's mental health in Northern Ireland. 

The stigma surrounding men's mental health

Many men view depression as a sign of weakness, instead choosing to ignore their symptoms. This can lead to a lot of men struggling to open up and ask for help.

Toxic Masculinity 

A contributing factor towards the stigma surrounding men's mental health is toxic masculinity, and may explain why men often don't report their symptoms of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Men are believed to be the 'tough guys' who don't show emotion in order to maintain their masculine appearance. According to The Mental Health Foundation, "While wanting to feel, strong and in control are not inherently negative things, some research suggests that a reliance on these traditional ideals as what it means to be 'a man' may negatively impact men’s mental health."  By choosing to adhere to the masculine ideals and norms, men are at risk of experiencing symptoms of depression such as-

  • Feeling sad, angry, and/or irritable
  • Feeling demotivated
  • Feeling extremely tired, or having sleep issues

Effects of stigma

One of the biggest effects of stigma for men is the fear of seeking help. Men who recognise they are having problems with their mental health will usually suppress their emotions, instead choosing other ways to deal with how they're feeling, such as alcohol and drug misuse. This can take a toll on men's physical and psychological health, which can have worrying consequences. AWARE's mission is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, we want to ensure people can be open to talking about their mental health, enabling them to access the services appropriate to their needs. 

How to reduce the stigma 

It's important to raise awareness of mental health and encourage others to have open conversations about how they're feeling. There are many ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health including:

Don't let stigma create self-doubt and shame

You may mistakenly think that having a mental health issue is a sign of personal weakness and you should be able to control it without help. This is not the case, it's important to know it's okay to feel the way you do. Click here to check out the AWARE website for factsheets and information on how you can better manage your mental health. By seeking help and learning about how to better manage your mental health, you can improve your self-esteem and overcome any destructive self-judgment.

Reach out 

If you are struggling, reach out to someone you trust such as a friend, family member, or GP and let them know what's going on. Once you have identified the problem, you can then begin to look at how to better manage your mental health. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and need to talk, call Lifeline on 0808808800 or Samaritans on 112123. 

Be AWARE

Be aware of your attitudes and behavior and also look out for the signs of depression. If you are noticing signs of a mental health issue, ask yourself why is this? Once you identify what is causing you to feel this way, you can then work to better manage your mental health. 

Men's Health Week 15th-21st June 2020

This men's health week, team AWARE in collaboration with our friends at Place Proud will be using this opportunity to shine a light on men's mental health issues. 

Men of all ages and walks of life have come together to shine a light on men's mental health, click here to check it out. This week, we are encouraging men to look out for each other, raise awareness, and #StandUpForMen.  

 There are 3 simple steps to take part:

      1. Check-in on 3 of your male friends.
      2. Tag 3 of your friends to do the same.
      3. Donate £3 to AWARE (if you can)

Click here to donate.

Funds raised from this campaign will go towards setting up a mental health awareness programme specifically for men. 

If you would like to find out more about our #StandUpForMen campaign and to get involved, click here.

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