Our society often places certain expectations on men and their mental health needs. Such expectations have significantly changed in the last several years and continue to evolve today. However, we still view men as strong and resilient, and we afford few opportunities for men to be vulnerable.
Men are not always stoic, strong figures. They are just as affected by pain and turmoil as anyone else. And when men are afforded fewer opportunities to provide for their mental health needs, they tend to struggle even more.
As boys, men are often taught to suppress their emotions. Phrases such as “man up” encourage boys to hide their feelings and embrace a false perception of strength. This type of suppression can lead to serious mental health disorders.
Only when men open up to others can they face their feelings and internal tumult. When we provide spaces that men feel safe to open up in, the barriers they have built are knocked down. By creating a more open and accepting environment, we can help men get the support they deserve to manage their mental health needs better.
Understanding Men’s Mental Health Needs
We live in a complicated world, and it can sometimes be hard to balance life, work, and our mental health needs. This can be a particular problem for men, who may feel compelled to make their needs secondary to other concerns.
Men are trained to have a unique perspective of their mental health needs. From boyhood, men are taught to be strong providers and to take care of the needs of others before their own. This may lead them to face unique challenges, especially when attempting to access mental health care.
Many beliefs that men are taught from boyhood contribute to toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity is a hyper-masculinized and unattainable image of manhood that strips men of emotional connections. Moreover, toxic masculinity hinders their access to support for their mental health needs.
Even though men may face barriers in their perceptions of mental healthcare and access to that care, there is hope. Understanding these specific challenges can help us address these crucial issues and connect men to care for their mental health needs.
The Detriment of Being Told To “Man Up”
As mentioned above, one of the biggest detriments to men seeking help for their mental health needs is toxic masculinity. This abstract concept in our culture seeks to glorify the stoic, strong, virile, and dominant male to an unrealistic degree.
Unfortunately, toxic masculinity discourages men from addressing their mental health needs. One of the biggest barriers toxic masculinity creates in mental healthcare for men is the idea of “manning up.”
From boyhood, men are told to hide their emotions and “man up,” an abstract phrase that uses toxic masculinity as an ideal. By not showing emotions and shrugging off the pain, men are thought to “man up” and display strength, virility, and dominance.
But suppressing pain has real health consequences, including cardiovascular issues. By embracing emotion and facing problems, men may prevent serious physical and mental health complications. Breaking the toxic masculinity cycle can help men address their mental health needs.
How The Stigma of Therapy Affects Men
Few barriers to accessing care for mental health needs are harder to overcome than the stigma of seeking therapy. Spurred on by decades of ridicule of the mental health profession in film, television, and even novels, therapy stigma still lingers in our society today.
Unfortunately, this stigma also carries false notions of what the therapy profession is and how therapy works. As a result of these portrayals and erroneous word of mouth, therapy is sometimes thought of as a crackpot profession.
Men are particularly susceptible to the ideas behind therapy stigma. Even today, media portrayals often show men as the sidelined force in therapy sessions where other characters use therapy to ridicule the man or his decisions. Thus, it is important to understand that therapy is not about derision. Unlike these portrayals, therapists encourage active participation by men in therapy. They seek to help men express emotions and overcome the barriers they face to find solutions to their mental health needs.
Overcoming Trauma and Stigma for Men’s Mental Health Needs
When men experience trauma and face challenges to their mental health, they need expert support. Having the right support can help them overcome the specific barriers to therapy men face.
Specialized support systems can also help men address their behavioral health needs. This is important in ensuring effective treatment tailored to them. When men have access to the support they need, they can develop structures that support their holistic mental health.
Fighting Toxic Masculinity With Individualized Treatment Plans
When treating a population that faces significant barriers, developing individualized treatment plans can help address the group’s full range of mental health needs. This is how Alter Wellness Care addresses men’s unique mental health needs.
The partial hospitalization program (PHP) offered by Alter Wellness Care focuses on whole-person wellness. This approach tailors the approach to each individual, reducing stigmas and creating an environment of support. The most important reason men must be open emotionally is that no one knows the specific needs of men better than men. Moreover, when developing a therapy plan, the facility and the client must understand the client’s exact therapy needs.
Toxic masculinity ties men down and, in doing so, makes them weaker. When we break down barriers and empower men, we let men determine their mental health destinies and return them to strength and resilience.
The topic of mental health and men is one that simultaneously requires us to give attention and understanding. Stigmas and toxic masculinity pervade the cultural conversation of men’s mental health. We must break through the white noise of these arguments to understand that men have mental health needs too. We can address men’s mental health when we understand that toxic masculinity ties men to one specific and unattainable way of being a man. By embracing emotional vulnerability, men gain strength and the tools to address their mental health needs. If you need help breaking through these barriers, call Alter Wellness Care today at (866) 311-3510 and speak to our care team about what we can do for you.