Male Mental Health

From a young age, men are taught to be strong, "manly," and  powerful; they are also taught that having emotions makes you inherently weak, and the most famous phrase young boys are taught "boys don't cry." This has impacted men in many ways. Most men feel like it's difficult to talk about their mental health and that if they talk about it, it will be disregarded entirely. If male mental health continues to be ignored, men will continue to die. Male suicide rates are three times higher than women. Men who suffer from mental disorders are seen as more "violent," which is false. It is essential to regard men's mental health and teach boys in their adolescent years that it is okay to have emotions, and it is okay to seek help. That is one of our aims at State of Mind. We aim to break the stigma on males' mental health and give teenage boys the resources they need to reach a positive state of mind. We created a section dedicated to only men's mental health for this reason. In this section, you will find many helpful resources and an essay written by one of our users telling his mental health experience. This section will be updated continuously. Stay tuned for future updates by joining our newsletter. 

Responses from Male Teens

We sent out an anonymous survey asking 5 simple questions to a variety of male teens regarding men's mental health. Here are several of the responses. 

What has been your experience with mental health?

The encounters I’ve had with mental health have not been great. I am someone who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. These feelings come and go frequently and have hindered my social presence in my community. The lack of self confidence and self worth has ruined countless relationships and friendships.

I have struggled with it for most of my life.

Pretty hard. Some days I wish I wasn’t born the way I was.

When you were younger were you told that having emotions made you weak? How did this affect you?

Yes. To be honest I didn’t really care because I can’t control what I feel.

Yes. This caused me to suppress my emotions for a very long time. It wasn’t till I started high school that I finally began to let myself experience these feelings.

My parents were supportive of my mental health and created a safe space for me to share my feelings, but anywhere else I always hid them. I would have been seen as "weak" or a "pussy" if I showed my true emotions.

Yes I was, it made me more sheltered with my emotions and taught me not to show them to anybody.

No I wasn't told that emotions make me weak, but I was told that I should man up at times.

What has been your experience finding male mental health resources?

I haven’t really had a great experience with finding support with mental health. However I did find some positive aid when I reached out to a school counselor in order to find new ways to cope with my depression. I at one point struggled with a chemical dependency on attempts to lose myself and become numb to the world around me. This led me downward on a spiral that ended with a suicidal episode. But by finally speaking about the emotions that seem to run my life I was able to live myself from the lowest point of my life.

There's not a lot of them. Society tends to ignore men's mental health and wellbeing.

I haven't found any.

Didn't really know there were any.

As a teenage boy why do you think it's important to talk about men's mental health? 

We need to create a safe space for men, especially young men. It is dangerous to have our feelings bottled up, we're like a ticking time bomb.

To bring awareness to issues that aren’t normally talked about.

I think you should reach out to those who are important in your life. Identifying your struggles with mental health isn’t something to be ashamed of and should be embraced because you're not alone in your struggles.

Because we’re all sort of forced to fit others idea of what a man or a boy is

How do you think we can begin breaking the stigma on men's mental health?

I believe that unfortunately this stigma will be very hard to break due to the nature of the society we live in. But by reaching out to school administrators and trying to establish a network of your peers it can help in aiding the creation of a more accepting culture of male oriented mental health outreach. Unless we continue to speak about the struggles of our mental health changes will never occur. If we don’t advocate for ourselves the support we so drastically need unfortunately won’t be provided.

We need to be more open and accepting of men. This starts with talks at home, with friends or on social media. We need people that don't identify as a boy/man to speak up about these issues, as we feel alone in our struggle.

My experience with mental health as a teenage boy with anxiety and depression

 

By: A 16 year old male student in the U.S

 

My experience with mental health has been one that has had strong effects over my life. I'm someone who suffers from severe anxiety and depression. These two mental ailments have caused me to have an extremely negative outlook on myself. Inevitably caused me to progress through life by suppressing my emotions and it wasn’t tillI got to high school thatI really let myself experience them. During my freshman year I realized just how difficult life was when feeling the extent of my depression. This leads to self destructive tendencies like failing assignments in school, a dwindling sense of confidence in myself, toxic short lived relationships and a chemical dependency. I would smoke to feel numb to the world around me yet always managed to feel awful as a result. The next day I would look at myself in the mirror in disgust and what I had become and by my sophomore year after a especially dark time I knew that I needed help. 

 

Let me preface by saying that I didn’t think counseling would work for me so I put it off as long as I could. I knew that the people of that profession might not understand me and they would just use cookie cutter responses in order to magically solve my problems. However once I had my first meeting with my counselor my opinions changed drastically. She was extremely understanding and we talked through a lot of the recreational medicating I was doing and what I should do moving forward. She didn’t lecture me about my decisions but rather, genuinely listened to what I had to say. We developed strategies moving forward so I could eventually weed that part of my life out. (no pun intended) Even though I left my first two meetings in a state of panic because I’d never been that open with someone, I was glad I went. The most important thing you can do is just simply show up. It will seem impossible, but it's a crucial first step.

 

After I started reaching out to get help I saw drastic improvement in my mental health. I found that my self confidence was growing and I was becoming less and less dependent on the substances that once had such a powerful control over my life. I share my own personal experiences to hopefully have those who my words reach use this as motivation. As someone who sank all the way down into despair and was ready to just be done with all life had to offer I'm here to say by breaking down the stereotypes attached to men in society and more specifically men's mental health it will get better. It will take you becoming a little vulnerable and making the decision to talk about what affects you on a daily basis. I know just how outlandish it sounds but from someone who was so disconnected from their own thoughts and emotions to now being able to talk about my mental health more freely it goes to show that anyone can do it. Just by reaching out and embarking along the road to improvement you won’t believe how far you can come. The hardest leg of the journey is the first steps. So set out to become the best version of yourself.

Articles about Male Mental Health
Articles for Male Eating Disorders
Books on Male Mental Health
TED Talks on Male Mental Health
Male Eating Disorder Resources
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