According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men died by suicide at a rate of 3.54 percent higher than women in 2017.
Why is that? There is a larger mental health stigma when it comes to men, due to the notion of toxic masculinity. There have been traditional sentiments when it comes to the topic of mental health among men. It was traditionally ingrained that men are supposed to suppress their emotions and only show “toughness”. The reality of this only contributes to higher rates of suicide and difficulty managing emotion. Mental illness is a normal part of human life. Many see mental health as a “weakness”, holding them back from portraying the ideal man they want to be. This tends to hold men back from reaching out for mental health help, making it harder to admit that they’re struggling which consequently contributes to the stigma.
Furthermore, neglecting a crucial part of our humanness only serves to manifest a pain that is difficult to cope with.
Research shows that toxic masculinity is a rooted cause for many burdens of mental health in men. Toxic masculinity refers to the idea that men should display “manliness”: dominance and strength. Oftentimes, this notion not only leads to struggles with mental health but may often lead to misogyny and homophobia. This social construct is fortunately dying down, however, it remains a prevalent force that continues to hold back men from obtaining the help they need.
When it comes to mental health, men tend to underreport their symptoms, particularly depression. In addition, traditional masculine traits can add to increased rates of depression. Oftentimes, when left with no ability to seek help, the common resort is alcohol as a coping mechanism. These depressive symptoms only lead to substance misuse and abuse which leaves the victim in a cycle of suffering.
How do we reduce the stigma?
Firstly, men must be self-conscious and not let the false narrative of “toughening up” resolve personal issues, especially mental health. “Toughening up” ignores and deflects help when it is really needed and puts one in a state of denial.
Secondly, it is okay to show vulnerability. Showing vulnerability shows that we are capable of showing emotion; something that is part of human life. There are moments where we face obstacles that require us to ask for help and support.
Campbell, Leah.( 2019, June 30). Why Many Men Have a Harder Time Seeking Treatment for Mental Illness [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Note: The Free Your Mind Mental Health Society is an independent youth-led organization. The contents of this blog are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In the event of a medical emergency, please call your doctor or 911 or other local emergency numbers immediately.