Behind the Mask - Men’s Mental Health
We have a problem; across the country mental illness is on the rise. With the recent publicity surrounding suicides, I decided to do a little research. Here’s what I found:
Mental illnesses of all sorts affect 1 in 5 people in Niagara in their lifetime – that’s twenty percent of our population. Local suicide rates are equally alarming. Did you know that every eight days, someone in Niagara dies by suicide? Of these, a disproportionate number are men. The most recent statistic I could find (Statistics Canada, 2014) states that 75% of suicides are committed by males.
A little deeper digging revealed that there is less research concerning men’s mental health than about similar issues affecting other segments of society. Across the board it is reported that women suffer from mental illness more often than men do; so, why the discrepancy in suicide rates? Then I found an article which offered some insight. The piece was peppered with words such as these: “masculinity, manliness, strength…” Hmmm.
When I think of the men in my life, these words come to mind for me too. Men are the supporters, the ones we turn to when something is wrong. They hold the answers, they stand up for us, and they PROTECT us. So…who is protecting them?
Maybe more men than women are taking their own lives because they feel like they have no supporter or defender of their own. When the pressure of being “the man” is too much, maybe death feels like the only recourse. Maybe that’s why more men than women have a substance abuse problem, to deal with their pain. Maybe, when the alcohol and drugs that men often use to numb their pain fail to ease their distress, suicide seems like the only option.
Sure, we have all heard about ending the stigma around mental illness. We are talking the talk, but when it comes to our fathers, brothers, sons and male companions, are we walking the walk? Please reach out to the men in your lives. Tell them that you love them and are there for them if they need you. Let them know that, when the pressures of the world feel overwhelming, they can and should ask for help.
It’s ok. They are no less of a man if they do.