This post was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.
Could it be that women are more depressed than men? It would seem that way according to statistics.
Or could it be that men are less likely to report their depression and are generally less likely to seek out treatment?
If so, why?
Mental healthcare has not targeted men in the same way as women, and social stigma prevents many men from getting the help they need.
As such, truly inclusive mental health needs to ensure that male mental health isn’t being left behind.
So, read on to learn more about the male mental healthcare gap, why it exists, and what we can all do to help change this unfortunate situation.
What’s the Male Mental Healthcare Gap?
Gender is a highly complex phenomenon. It’s easy to forget, but gender doesn’t necessarily have a correlation with our biological sex. Someone may be born one gender but wish to express themselves as another, for example.
Masculinity, as a type of gender expression, involves many factors. There is the individual, and then there is the cumulative effect of their environment, their experience, and society at large.
The pressures of society may lead us to think that masculinity should be one particularly thing. It should be rugged, toughness, independence, strength, etc. It should involve the suppression of emotion and tears.
Even our language perpetuates this all the time. Just think of expressions like “Boys don’t cry” or “Man up” or “He throws like a girl.”
This view of masculinity is quite toxic and leads to many unfortunate outcomes. One of these is the fact that many men remain in denial about their mental health and feel that they are weak if they seek help. So, this article aims to break down this stigma and explain why exactly the male mental healthcare gap exists.
And if you would appreciate having more resources on inclusive mental health, you might want to consider the helpful content available through BetterHelp: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/inclusive-mental-health/
Why Does the Male Mental Healthcare Gap Exist?
Not Enough Resources
Women have long been depicted more often in popular culture when it comes to depression. In novels and films, a depressed character is more likely to be a woman, and in advertisements for antidepressants as well.
So, many men may not see themselves in these depictions and they may not feel represented. This may contribute to them not feeling like it’s appropriate for a man to be depressed or to need help.
Boys and men need more resources and more representation so that they can have a healthier understanding of mental health and be less afraid to get the help they need.
Fear of Being Judged
Fear is a powerful force, especially when it comes from societal stigma. Boys and men generally want to please their peers and father figure types. They may feel like admitting they are depressed is a defeat and makes them unattractive or undesirable.
Unfortunately, refusing help for mental health concerns for this reason doesn’t lead to any good at all. We need to make men feel more comfortable about getting help and normalize the fact that men get depression, too.
Boys and men may express their mental health troubles differently from women. They may be more likely to engage in anger, violence, and risky acts.
So, in addition to societal reasons, there may also be biological reasons that make men more resistant to seeking help. This perhaps goes back to the idea that the man is the hunter and provider for the family, but in 2022 this mentality no longer need apply.
Can We Close the Gap in Male Mental Healthcare?
So, how can we close the gap in male mental healthcare?
Education is essential. We should all aim to have a good understanding of male mental health so that we can help ourselves and others who may need help.
We should always support boys and men to get the help they need and be there for them when they are feeling down.
We should also reflect on the language we use and try to resist using gendered language that contributes to harmful stereotypes (like in the examples given above).
Gender and life are open, fluid things, and men should feel free to feel and express their emotion however they like (as long as it isn’t hurting anyone).
To have more inclusive mental health, it is essential that boys and men are not left behind. To that end, we should all focus on education and compassion so that men don’t feel like it’s unacceptable to have mental health concerns or get the necessary treatment for them.
Leave a Reply