“Man Up” The reluctance of men to seek help for medical and mental health problems is a well-documented phenomenon. There are a number of reasons for this, including traditional masculine norms that emphasise self-reliance and stoicism, fear of being judged as weak or inadequate, and lack of awareness about available resources.
Traditional masculine norms
One of the most significant barriers to men seeking help is the traditional masculine ideal, which emphasises self-reliance, stoicism, and emotional control. Men are often socialised to believe that they should be able to handle their problems on their own, and that seeking help is a sign of weakness. This can make it difficult for men to admit that they need help, even when they are struggling with serious problems.
Promoting positive help-seeking attitudes:
- Encourage open communication about mental health challenges.
- Normalise seeking help as a sign of strength and self-care.
- Provide accessible and supportive resources for men seeking assistance.
- Address the stigma associated with male vulnerability and emotional expression.
Fear of judgement
Men may also be reluctant to seek help because they fear being judged by others. They may worry that people will think they are weak, incapable, or even crazy. This fear can be especially strong among men who work in traditionally masculine occupations, such as construction or law enforcement.
- Educate themselves about mental health: The more men know about mental health conditions, the less likely they are to be afraid of them. There are many resources available to help men learn more about mental health, such as websites, books, and support groups.
- Talk to someone they trust: Talking to a friend, family member, or therapist can help men to start to overcome their fear of judgement. They may also be able to offer support and encouragement during the process of seeking help.
- Find a therapist who specialises in working with men: Therapists who specialise in men’s mental health are familiar with the unique challenges that men face and are often more sensitive to their concerns about judgement.
- Be patient with themselves: It takes time to overcome the fear of judgement. Men should not be discouraged if they don’t immediately feel comfortable seeking help. It is important to be patient with themselves and to celebrate their progress along the way.
Lack of awareness
Many men are simply unaware of the resources that are available to them. They may not know that there are therapists who specialise in treating men, or that there are support groups for men who are struggling with specific problems. This lack of awareness can make it difficult for men to find the help they need.
The consequences of not seeking help
The consequences of not seeking help can be serious. Men who do not seek help for medical problems are more likely to die prematurely from preventable causes. Men who do not seek help for mental health problems are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse problems. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence or having unprotected intercourse.
Physical health: Men who avoid seeking medical attention may miss out on early detection and treatment of serious illnesses, such as cancer or heart disease. This can lead to more aggressive and costly treatments, or even premature death.
Mental health: Untreated mental health issues can have a significant impact on a man’s quality of life. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can interfere with work, relationships, and overall well-being. In some cases, they can even lead to suicide.
Relationships: Men who are struggling with personal problems may find it difficult to maintain healthy relationships with their partners, family, and friends. They may withdraw from social activities or lash out at others in frustration.
Substance abuse: Men who are not seeking help for their mental health problems may turn to alcohol or drugs as a way to cope. This can lead to addiction, which can further complicate their lives and make it harder to seek help for underlying issues.
Risky behaviours: Men who are struggling with mental health problems or substance abuse may be more likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as driving under the influence, having unprotected intercourse, or fighting. These behaviours can put themselves and others at risk of serious harm.
Overall well-being: The consequences of not seeking help can have a ripple effect on a man’s overall well-being. Physical health problems, mental health problems, and relationship difficulties can all contribute to stress, anxiety, and depression. This can make it even harder for a man to seek help, creating a downward spiral.
What can be done to help men overcome their reluctance to seek help?
Breaking Down Barriers to Men’s Healthcare
There are a number of things that can be done to help men overcome their reluctance to seek help. These include:
- Challenging traditional masculine norms: We need to challenge the idea that men should be able to handle everything on their own. We need to teach boys and men that it is okay to ask for help when they need it.
- Educating men about the benefits of seeking help: We need to educate men about the benefits of seeking help. We need to make them aware of the resources that are available to them, and we need to show them that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Making mental health services more accessible: We need to make mental health services more accessible to men. We need to offer more men-only mental health programs, and we need to make sure that mental health services are affordable and easy to access.
- Training healthcare providers to work with men: We need to train healthcare providers to work effectively with men. We need to teach them how to communicate with men in a way that is respectful and non-judgmental, and we need to teach them about the unique challenges that men face when seeking help.
By taking these steps, we can help to create a culture in which men feel comfortable seeking help when they need it. This will lead to better health outcomes for men and for society as a whole.
There are a number of things that can be done to encourage men to seek help, including:
- Raising awareness: We can raise awareness about the importance of men seeking help by talking about it openly and honestly. We can also provide information about the resources that are available to men.
- Reducing stigma: We can reduce the stigma associated with men seeking help by challenging traditional gender roles and expectations. We can also create a more supportive environment for men who are struggling.
- Making it easier to seek help: We can make it easier for men to seek help by providing more accessible and affordable services. We can also train healthcare providers to be more culturally competent and to better understand the needs of men.
It is important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you are a man who is struggling, please know that you are not alone and that there are people who care about you and want to help.
Men are less likely than women to seek help for a variety of reasons including:
- Stigma: There is a stigma associated with men seeking help, especially for mental health issues. Men may feel that they are not supposed to show weakness or that they should be able to handle their problems on their own.
- Lack of awareness: Men may not be aware of the resources that are available to them or they may not know how to seek help.
- Fear of judgement: Men may be afraid of being judged by others if they seek help. They may worry that people will think they are weak or that they are not man enough.
- Practical barriers: Men may face practical barriers to seeking help, such as lack of time, transportation, or childcare.
Clinical Dietitian, Simplyweight