Breaking down the stigma of men's mental health

One in eight men experience depression, while Australia’s most common mental health challenge, anxiety, affects one in five men. So, if you’re struggling, you’re certainly not alone. 

“Depression and anxiety are health problems just like any other health problems,” explains beyondblue’s policy, research and evaluation leader Dr Stephen Carbone. “If you’re affected by these conditions, and they’re affecting your life, it’s important to get help. There are solutions and there are treatments that work.” 

Sound easier said than done? You’re not alone in thinking that, either. “The numbers of men who seek help for these conditions are quite low,” Carbone says, adding many men aren’t sure asking for help will be helpful.

“Men need to learn more about depression and anxiety, and the treatment options available to them. You can take control and take action.” 

If you’re a man struggling with your mental health, there are a few things to remember: 

What will others think? 

One of the worries many people have is, if they admit they’re struggling, those around them will think less of them. Over the past decade, mental health attitudes have changed dramatically. “It’s time to realise they’re health conditions that can affect anyone,” says Carbone. 

Research shows the greatest stigma you’re likely to face is from yourself. It’s likely you’d be supportive of friends, family members or work colleagues in the same situation, but you might be extra hard on yourself. 

So, does a mental health challenge make you weak or not as masculine or less capable? “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Carbone says. “It’s a common problem and you don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed. Arm yourself with information.” 

You’re in control 

You get to choose who you tell. You can remain anonymous with a helpline or by using online tools, or you can see a psychologist without telling your friends. Or you might choose to tell the people closest to you, giving them the opportunity to look out for you and help you get through. Who you talk to about your struggles, and when, are decisions you control. 

You can also choose the actions you take. There are many options for dealing with depression, anxiety or other mental health challenges. Take an online quiz to rate your mental health, read up on what it all means, call a helpline to ask for advice, speak to the people around you, visit your GP or see a psychologist, or join a group to help you connect with your community. 

Remember, solving a mental health problem is all about taking action, so leap into that first step. 

Look out for your mates

Almost half of our population will experience a mental health condition during their lifetime, so it’s likely some of the people you’re close to will need your help. 

“You have a role in trying to help any friends or family members who are struggling, to get the medical attention that they need,” says Carbone. It’s not up to you to provide the help they need, but it is your responsibility to support them, and perhaps encourage them to seek help or information. 

Ask the question, ‘R U OK?’ to start the conversation with your friends. 

Educate yourself 

Do you know what depression symptoms are? Do you know what to do if you’re struggling? Do you know if how you’re feeling is normal or whether things could be better? Do you know what to do or say if someone you know seems to be struggling?

Learning more about mental health is going to help you know the answers to those questions. Here’s where you can find out more: 

SuperFriend acknowledgement

This article was provided by SuperFriend. SuperFriend is the workplace wellbeing partner of the super and insurance industry and supports employers across Australia to build cohesive, high-performing teams within healthy and productive environments. www.superfriend.com.au