Men’s Health Month

June is Men’s Health Month and it is a time not only to celebrate the men in our lives but importantly to look at their overall health and assess how we, as partners, friends, parents etc. can support and encourage them.

Recent research has shown that there is a silent crisis among men regarding their mental health. This is based on strong evidence that men have high rates of various mental health issues.

Included in these issues are elevated rates of suicide and substance abuse, as well as low rates of use of mental health services. Sadly, the male gender often intersects with other variables to produce even higher rates in some sub-groups.

Men account for over 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States, with one man killing himself every 20 minutes. Men living in small towns and rural areas have particularly high rates of suicide.

These high rates have been attributed to various factors. One is the massive decline in traditional male industries such as manufacturing, forestry and fisheries, leaving large numbers of men in these regions unemployed or under-employed.

In the current economy, many men are finding it difficult to fulfill the breadwinner role, leaving them lacking a strong sense of pride, purpose and meaning in life.

Very high rates of suicide have been observed in veterans, young American Indians and gay men. A common factor among these groups may be perceived, or real rejection from mainstream society, leading to strong feelings of alienation and isolation.

Substance use is a predominantly male problem, occurring at a rate of 3 to 1 as compared to females. Research indicates that many men engage in substance abuse in response to stressful life transitions including unemployment and divorce. Indeed, almost 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

This separation and loss can be extremely difficult for the men involved, again leaving them isolated and alienated from mainstream society. As such, substance abuse may be a maladaptive response to a malevolent situation.

High rates of substance abuse are observed in certain sub-groups, for example veterans, implying the need for targeted interventions in certain groups.

Mental Health Services

As mentioned before, evidence suggests that men are significantly less likely to use mental health services in response to a mental health issue compared to women. This is especially so for Negro, Latino, and Asian men, who have much lower utilization rates than Caucasian men.

Therefore, men who are suicidal or have substance abuse problems are substantially more likely to suffer in silence, and especially so with minority men.

This is often attributed to stubbornness in men, rooted in traditional notions of masculinity that emphasize unwavering strength or the “stiff upper lip”. A further explanation is that formal mental health services have been shown not to be finely attuned to men’s needs, especially minority men. Indeed, many services tend to emphasize medication and/or talk-therapy. However, research has shown that men prefer activity when faced with stressful situations.

How do we improve men’s mental health?

Most importantly, men’s mental health should be recognized as a social issue as much as a health issue, with attention paid to issues such as unemployment and familial disruption. Secondly, there should be more choice in the formal mental health system, with more male-tailored options that respond to men’s unique needs. Thirdly, governmental health departments/agencies must create specific strategies to improve men’s mental health, with the creation of targets and goals as recent research suggests.

Strong Hope takes men’s mental health very seriously and recognizes that our treatment programmes and activities for male clients must be different to those for women and include action and activities as well as traditional talk therapies. We have found that it is of vital importance to our male client’s recoveries to keep active during their stay, whether simply with daily personalised physical training, boxing, Tai Chi, gardening, helping the less fortunate, enjoying water sports or golf etc.  With our dedication to providing individualized bespoke programmes for each individual client we are able to meet them where they are at and create a programme that suits their needs, interests and activity levels and that can also evolve with the client as their treatment and recovery progresses.

For more information on our bespoke men’s programmes please email contact us at info@stronghopebarbados.com or on +1(246)280-0020.

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