Fathers, spouses, partners, sons, brothers, uncles, friends – we all have them, and their mental wellness matters! Taking care of mental health is as important as breathing oxygen; we need it to survive! As mental health challenges continue to rise in our communities, some Americans still aren’t receiving the mental health care and treatment they may need. This is especially true for Black men, who are affected by the general barriers to medical treatment and who also have internalized certain behaviors that fit within the social constructs of Black masculinity – such as the requirement to be strong and stoic. There are plenty of other reasons why men are less likely to speak up about mental health issues like depression or anxiety. Be it feelings of weakness, embarrassment, or being afraid of being judged, they often don’t want to share their troubles, or they think no one cares to hear about their problems. As a result, they just don’t talk about it. We have to realize that if they don’t talk about it, it can be impossible for others to offer support or provide helpful resources during their times of need. With men, you won’t always see the signs we often associate with depression, like hopelessness and sadness. Instead, they might appear angry or aggressive, making it easier to miss the signs that something is wrong. This often results in men missing out on opportunities for treatment they need to feel better. My message is this: Men’s Mental Health Matters. So let’s make it matter! We need to talk openly about mental health; suffering in silence isn’t safe nor healthy. Check in with the men in your life. Ask them how they’re feeling. Look for changes in his behavior and watch out for the signs and symptoms.
Mental health symptoms in men might include:
- Anger and aggressiveness
- Substance misuse
- Trouble concentrating
- Persistent feelings of worry
- Engagement in high-risk activities
- Unusual behavior that concerns others or gets in the way of daily life
- Thoughts of suicide
Some mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, can also have physical symptoms that people might not realize.
- Changes in appetite and energy
- New aches and pains
- Digestive issues
- Trouble sleeping
- Sleeping more than usual
- Changes in sexual habits or patterns
If you think someone you love is facing a mental health challenge, offer your support, listen, and be patient. Encourage him to talk to a mental health professional or even his doctor. Living with depression can feel unfair, lonely, and overwhelming, so let him know he’s not alone. Help is available, and he can feel better! Let’s make it matter!