The truth: men’s mental health statistics

According to the NIMH (National Institue of Mental Health), 1 in 5 US adults live with a mental illness of some sort (57.8 million as of 2001) to be exact. Around 37% of that number consists of men over 18. What’s staggering is that most men never seek out help because to them it makes them seem weak or unmanly. Speaking about your emotions and feelings should never make anyone feel weak. It should make you feel human regardless of sex, race or nationality. Men are also far more likely to go missing, or resort to alcohol or drugs.

It may be that society’s expectations on men play a part in the pressure they feel to keep going and not explore their feelings. Men are often expected to be strong and dependable, traits which can make it harder for them to recognize their symptoms of mental health.

How mental health issues can show up in men

While depression isn’t inherently different in men, male symptoms can include the following but not limited to:

  • anger
  • irritability
  • lack of control
  • risk taking
  • aggression

How to prioritize your mental health

Prioritizing your mental health is essential to the overall state of your body, relationships, work and emotional health. If you don’t, then you are no good to yourself or your family in that current state.

It may seem an inconvenience to schedule a little time to look after yourself. However, the benefits far outweigh the bother it may seem. There should be no excuse when helping yourself. Here are some ways to care for your mental health.

Exercise. We should always try to carve at least 30 minutes to exercise in some way. Even a 30-minute walk can help boost your mood and improve your health. I have been taking 20 minute walks every day for the past week and already seen a positive improvement in my mental health.

Stay hydrated and eat healthy or heathier. Water and a balanced diet can help not only your body but also your mind. It can give you the energy and focus you need on a daily basis.

Sleep. I can’t argue with this tip. Set a strict schedule to get the sleep you need. Most recommend at least 7 hours. Try to limit any kind of blue light from your phone, tablet or computer before bed. Most don’t know, but your devices have a setting to change when it becomes night to help with the harmful blue light. Studies show disconnecting 1 hour before bed has its benefits.

Positivity. Identify your negative thoughts and challenge them. Positive energy makes for a better day and better mind.

Therapy. I can’t stress enough that speaking to a professional helps. Not only does it give you a private, judgement free outlet, you may also gain strategies to effectively manage your mental health. Coming from someone who is in therapy, it’s helpful.

Learn to say no

If you’re asked to commit to something that feels like more than you can give, don’t be afraid to say no. Overstretching yourself for work, friends or family is detrimental to your wellbeing. It’s ok to put yourself first.

Connect with others

Socializing is positive and healthy, so even if you don’t feel like it, prioritize seeing friends or try making new ones. Solitude can negatively affect your mood and behavior. If time is short, make sure to keep in touch by phone or text. Research shows that socializing is as important for humans as sleep and nutrition.