June is Men’s Health Month.
Despite decades of research proving otherwise, there still seem to be people who think #mentalillness is “all in your head” – that it’s not real and you’re just imagining something is wrong.
They might also dismiss as useless (or even harmful) medications prescribed to treat #mentalillness, and suggest all you really need is exercise, a better diet, or just to get out of the house.
Of course, if it were so simple, we’d probably see substantially fewer people with #mentalillness than the one-in-five who will experience it in their lifetime.
Still, there is some truth to the idea that it’s all in your head. #Mentalillness affects your brain, and your brain can affect everything else: mood, physical health, appetite, sleep patterns, your relationships, behavior and how you perform at work or school – and so much more.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
But while the prospect of having #mentalillness may be frightening, research has shown there is one group in particular more inclined to deny they may be experiencing #mentaldifficulties and more hesitant to seek treatment.
That group is #men.
This isn’t true of all #men, of course. Millions of #men seek treatment for #mentalillness every year – but, unfortunately, millions don’t. #Stigma and societal norms both likely contribute to an unease about #mentalhealthtreatment. Many #men believe asking for help is a sign of weakness. Others might find talking about their feelings to be uncomfortable or even difficult.
It’s important for #men who may be facing #mentalhealthchallenges to recognize they are not alone. According to the #NationalInstituteofMentalHealth, more than six million #men in the U.S. have #depression every year.
And a list of the more common precipitating factors for #depression are everywhere this year: job loss, financial hardship, #socialisolation and disconnection, societal upheaval – not to mention #stress, #anxiety and grief.
#Depression is one of the most common types of #mentalillness and can affect anyone regardless of age, occupation, race, education level or financial circumstances. It is also highly treatable and, with the right treatment and support, often temporary.
But untreated – if one is hesitant to seek treatment – #depression can lead to personal, family and financial problems, physical symptoms and an increased risk of problematic substance use.
In addition, while the link between #depression (or any #mentalillness) and #suicide is not as clear-cut as people might believe, #men are at a much higher risk for #suicide generally.
Last month, the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities released its new five-year strategic #suicideprevention plan for Georgia, which included some sobering statistics about #men and #suicide.
For example, in 2018, #men accounted for 78% of suicides in Georgia — an age-adjusted #suicide rate of 23.7 per 100,000, compared to a rate of 6.3 per 100,000 for #women. The #suicide rate among #men in Georgia was highest among the age groups of 25 to 29, 55 to 59 and 70 years and olde. And although #women are more likely attempt #suicide, #men are much more likely to complete #suicide.
None of this is to say that #men who lose their jobs will become depressed, or that #men with #depression will attempt #suicide. Rather, the most important takeaway is that – like anyone else – #men who might experience #mentalillness need treatment. These are not signs of weakness, only that #men are human.
If you are a man who might be facing #mentalhealthchallenges, ask your #doctor to recommend a #mentalhealthprofessional, check with your employer’s employee assistance program, or check online for a #mentalhealth agency in your community.
And remember, you are not alone – there are people around you who love you, care about you and will support you in getting help, because you are important to them and their lives.