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Breaking the stigma: Helping men cope with mental health

The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention says in 2018, men died from suicide 3.56 times more often than women.
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 8:35 AM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - About six million men across the country struggle with depression every year, according to Mental Health America, but men are far less likely to report it than women.

Experts at Brynn Marr Hospital say men are at higher risk for suicide than women because of this underreporting. The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention says in 2018, men died from suicide 3.56 times more often than women.

“That statistic alone is a significant indicator that men’s mental health is an issue that we really need to focus on in order to increase the rate of treatment and for suicide prevention,” said Dana Cronkhite, MSW, Account Manager at Brynn Marr Hospital.

Cronkhite says men’s mental health has been referred to as the “silent sleeper” because men are underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

“Men are more likely to focus on their physical health rather than their mental health. This is referred to largely as toxic masculinity. What that means is societal norms place an emphasis on men being strong and not emotional, expressing themselves or seeking help for an issue that’s not a physical issue because that can be viewed as weak," Cronkhite explained.

Experts say we can help reduce this stigma by talking about mental health more and normalizing treatment.

“Educational interventions are some of the most effective ways at decreasing the negative attitudes associated with mental health issues. As a society, it’s important that we recognize the equality between mental illness and physical illness,” said Cronkhite.

Often, we will get help for a physical injury, like a broken bone, and Cronkhite says our mental well-being deserves that same attention.

If you know someone struggling with mental health, experts suggest to avoid negative comments or judgment and instead offer support, encouragement and understanding.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact your medical provider, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or call Brynn Marr Hospital at (910) 577-1400.

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