My name is Alison, and I’m a Health Advisor here at Pack Health. Today, as a woman, I want to increase awareness of the topic of men’s mental health, a sensitive topic that doesn’t get nearly enough attention.

How many of us have boyfriends, husbands, partners, dads, uncles, brothers, nephews, or just men in general we love and care about in our lives? Their health should be a priority to us, just as our own. It’s important to have a healthy conversation about mental health with the men in our lives because we’re not talking about it enough.

According to Mental Health America, the top five major mental health problems affecting men are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis and schizophrenia, and eating disorders. With a mental health disorder like depression, symptoms are not always apparent. Generally speaking, men are less likely than women to seek help for depression, substance abuse, or stress during life events due to social norms, a reluctance to talk, and playing down symptoms.

Here are a few common barriers that men face when it comes to their mental health:

  • Seeking therapy: Sometimes men are less likely to seek help from a specialist.
  • Medication: When a medication such as an antidepressant is prescribed, men are generally less likely to pick up the medication from the pharmacy.
  • Perception: Some men believe that a mental health disorder or diagnosis exhibits weakness.

A mental health disorder or condition is serious. It can affect healthy eating habits, sleep, exercise, stress, and one’s sense of well-being. In instances where mental health issues are present, keeping lines of communication open is essential to prevent the issues from becoming worse.

How can we combat these barriers?

  • Help set a short-term goal, but be SMART about it!
    • S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
    • Help him set realistic goals, stay organized, and prioritize!
  • Be a major support system in his life.
    • Emotional support is key!
    • Ask about his day; ask him how he feels.
    • Have family and friends there in times of need. Social connections matter, and being involved helps reduce social isolation.
    • Support Groups for depression (online, attend local, and access more resources).
    • Help him learn to manage stress with problem-solving techniques along with relaxing ones to soothe the mind, body, and soul.
      • Mindfulness
      • Meditation
  • Health
    • Get active!
    • Try walking 30 minutes daily for at least five days a week. According to the American Heart Association, you are likely to have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety if you walk.
    • Look out for changes in his behavior.

Encourage him to seek help through a mental health specialist or talk to his primary care physician. Many therapists are using teletherapy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychology Today provides a list of licensed teletherapists in your area to provide service by phone, video, text, and other professional HIPAA-tailored apps. Click here for more information about online therapy and how it works!

Health Advisors at Pack Health encourage these healthy behavior changes in all of our programs. If you notice someone you love experiencing any issues, please contact 800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please click HERE to explore the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website to learn how to get help or how to get involved.

Click HERE to get more information on mental health from Mental Health America.