Beware men, sexism and masculinity can lead to poor mental health

Beware men, sexism and masculinity can lead to poor mental health

Depression affects both men and women alike, but the symptoms of depression might differ in the two cases. As per experts, women with mental health issues tend to feel sad or worthless, while men tend to become hostile, aggressive or withdrawn. In extreme cases, it might even lead to suicide.

The differences noted regarding symptoms of depression can be attributed to cultural pressure. Fear of judgment and societal pressure make it difficult for men to admit about their depression and to ask for treatment. In many cultures across the globe, especially in patriarchal societies where men are raised to act tough, mental health issues like depression are often associated with stigma. Men in such societies are reluctant to talk about their mental problems. And when untreated, such issues can have devastating health consequences not just on the individual but on the family as well.

Men who feel powerful over women likely to have mental problems

As per a recent study, published by the American Psychology Association (APA) in the Journal of Counseling Psychology in November 2016, sexist attitudes pose a danger to the mental health of men. The study, titled “Meta-Analyses of the Relationship Between Conformity to Masculine Norms and Mental Health – Related Outcomes,” highlighted the association between adherence to certain masculine norms and negative mental health.

The study by researchers from the Indiana University Bloomington and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore analyzed results of more than 70 U.S.-based studies involving more than 19,000 men over a span of 11 years.

It was found that three norms, including sexual promiscuity, self-reliance and power over women, were significantly linked to negative mental health in men. The study said that men who felt powerful over women or those who behaved like uninhibited playboys were more likely to have mental problems as compared to their counterparts.

The study also said that in addition to masculine norms, a misplaced sense of male pride also put men at the risk of developing mental health problems. Further, men who exhibited such attitude were also less likely to seek treatment. The study observed links between sexist behavior, depression and substance abuse.

While suffering from mental health issues, men who feel the pressure to live up to the pre-defined masculine traits may struggle in seeking help for their symptoms. According to a TODAY-commissioned report titled, “State of Men 2016,” a Berland Strategy online survey of 1,001 adult males, 49 percent men felt more depressed than what they admitted to the people in their life. The study also found that 45 percent men believed that mental health issues can be solved on their own. According to Dr. Michael Crupain, medical unit chief of staff for “The Dr. Oz Show,” men do not talk about their feelings, especially mental health issues.

Mental health issues in men a big taboo in military

In the context of men’s mental health another finding observed that besides producing physical injuries, the war also produces psychological injuries among men and women alike. However, due to over emphasis on masculinity in the military, psychological injuries are considered an unmanly thing.

Masculinity in its extreme case takes the form of hyper-masculinity that is drilled into soldiers’ mind over and over again. All these conditions make it difficult for war veterans with PTSD to deal with emotions such as fear and sadness and ask for help. The result is often suppression or ignorance of those emotions.

Many veterans try to maintain hyper-masculinity which often stops them from getting the required professional help, leading to worsening of their conditions. The thought of embarrassment also prevents war veterans from discussing their condition with their colleagues.

Recovery road map

Depression can be exhausting, but it is treatable. However, the stigma attached to mental illnesses might make it hard for men to seek help for their mental disorders. If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, contact the Depression Treatment Helpline to get help in finding the best treatment centers for depression in the U.S. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-619-7729 or chat online with our therapists to know about the top depression rehabilitation centers in your area.