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How Men’s Mental Health Resources Can Help Serve All Communities

We must reach people who have been historically stigmatized

All over the globe, stigma and entrenched gender norms continue to prevent many men from seeking mental health support. Toxic masculinity tells men that they are not men unless they keep their struggles inside—with anger or stoicism the only acceptable responses to difficulty. This socialization also limits men’s ability to acknowledge and express their emotional world, which can result in coping behaviors like substance use that negatively impact themselves and others, including and especially intimate partners. These behaviors are then normalized in many societies, perpetuating harmful cultures that affect all genders and contribute to negative outcomes, like poorer physical health and social relationships, for men and those close to them.

Despite the well-established benefits of mental health resources and interventions, men in the U.S., for example, are half as likely to receive mental health services as women. Research has shown that, generally, men view reaching out for mental health services as weak and “unmanly” and have concerns about how seeking help will be perceived by others. This has devastating impacts as men in the U.S. and around the world are more likely to die by suicide than women.

While this difference is driven by many factors, it points to a cultural failure to be responsive to the needs of half of the population. Men’s reluctance to engage in mental health conversations also creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it likely contributes to the fact that women make up the overwhelming majority of mental health providers, further diminishing men’s willingness to engage with services. Other intersections, like race, LGBTQ identity, and socioeconomic status, further exacerbate problems with affordability, accessibility and representation.

Please select this link to read the complete article from SSIR.

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