Mental Health: It’s A Guy ThingOverall, women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mental health issue. But that statistic tells only a small part of the story. Here’s why. To start with, men make about two-thirds as many doctor visits as women do. And even when we do see a doctor, we’re often reluctant to talk about what’s really bothering us, especially if it has anything to do with feelings or mood. Plus, most men don’t realize that some of the physical symptoms we may experience—things like chronic pain and digestive problems—could actually be caused by a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety, or stress. And then there are the men who know (or at least strongly suspect) that they have a problem but suffer in silence, afraid to admit they need help. Afraid others will find out their secret and they’ll be perceived as weak or wimpy, or that they’ll lose their job.
Dealing With Anger Anger is a normal human feeling, but it can be a tricky emotion for men. Psychologists call anger a secondary emotion, which means you simply don’t get angry over nothing. Something has to hurt or frighten you first, and your anger is a reaction to your initial emotion.
Some psychologists call anger the “male emotional funnel system” because anger is one of the few emotions that society has permitted men to show openly. Men often convert other negative emotions (like fear, pain, loss, anxiety, or feeling vulnerable) into anger.
If you are having a problem with anger get help, but keep in mind that there may be other feelings hidden behind it. Jean Bonhomme, MD, MPH Men’s Health Network National Black Men’s Health Network
What Affects Your Mental Health?Your mental health can be influenced by a number of factors, including:
- Your genes (some mental health issues run in families)
- Divorce, separation, or the breakup of a long-term relationship
- The death of a loved one
- Losing your job, or job changes
- Going through bankruptcy
- Moving to a new home
- Coping with a natural disaster
- Caring for an ageing parent
- The birth of your child
- Being diagnosed and living with a serious illness, or suffering a major injury
- Serving in the military, especially in combat
The Big Question: Am I Normal?As mentioned above, we all have our ups and downs. But most of us wonder at least one time in our life whether what we’re feeling is normal, or whether we need professional help. Unfortunately, there’s no single answer that’s right for everyone. However, here’s a good rule of thumb:
You need assistance if you’ve been having symptoms every day for more than two weeks, and if those symptoms keep you from enjoying life, performing at work, or maintaining relationships with friends, your partner, or your children.
Untreated, mental health conditions can get worse and may have serious consequences. You might, for example, damage your physical health. Or you could increase your risk of doing something to harm yourself or others or of committing suicide. Fortunately, with the right diagnosis and the right treatment, most mental health problems are easily resolved, and you’ll return to feeling content with life and be better able to cope with its challenges.
Your First Step On The Road To Good Mental HealthIn Your Head: An Owner’s Manual, we’ll talk about three broad categories of mental health problems: depression, anxiety, and stress. You’ll learn to recognize the symptoms, some proven coping strategies you can do on your own that may relieve those symptoms, and if necessary, how to get the help you need from a mental health professional. In short, we’ll give you the tools you need to take charge of your head and what’s going on inside it. Because mental health issues can affect the individual’s friends and family, we’ll also talk about how to help and support someone close to you who is suffering from one or more mental health issues.
As you read this book, remember these two very important points:
- Monitoring your mental health isn’t something you do once and it’s over. As your life circumstances change (which they do every day), so may your mental health.
- Having a mental health problem doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or that you’re weak, not manly, or that you’re losing your masculinity. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We believe that admitting to yourself (and others, if necessary) that you have a problem, and getting the help you need is a sign of great strength.