June was Mental Health Awareness Month, although it might have gone unnoticed as mainstream media and society were predominantly focused on celebrating Pride Month, dedicated to uplifting the LGBTQ+ community. While recognizing the importance of Pride, it’s also crucial to shed light on another pressing issue: men’s mental health.
Have you heard about men battling depression and mental health issues? Have you come across stories of men coping with the emotional aftermath of infidelity and abuse? Do you know of men who suffer in silence due to loneliness or societal pressure that discourages emotional expression? Unfortunately, the answer for many is “No.”
This oversight reflects a larger problem – men’s mental health often takes a backseat, overshadowed by other causes and celebrations. During Pride Month, we see flag-raising ceremonies, parades, and colorful marketing campaigns aimed at celebrating LGBTQ+ pride. However, it’s essential to recognize that mental health struggles affect everyone, including men.
Men’s Mental Health Month aims to draw attention to the challenges men face regarding their mental well-being. It also seeks to dismantle societal stigmas that prevent open conversations about this critical issue. Officially recognized since 1994, when it was known as National Men’s Health Week, this observance was established by President Bill Clinton.
Unfortunately, many men are less likely to seek help for depression, substance abuse, or stressful life events due to social norms that discourage vulnerability, downplaying of symptoms, and a reluctance to discuss their feelings.
Depression affects six million men in the United States every year, with men dying by suicide at a rate four times higher than women, according to data from Mental Health America. Shockingly, white men aged 85 and older have the highest suicide rate of any demographic group in the United States, with a rate four times higher than the general population.
Men’s mental health deserves our attention year-round. We need to recognize that people are struggling and need help. We don’t have to wait until June to offer support. If you know a man facing a challenging time, reach out to him and provide your support.
A simple act like a hug and the words, “Hey, brother, I’m here for you. You are not alone,” can make a significant difference and save a life that might otherwise be lost.