OPINION: We should stop overlooking male mental health

November is Men’s Health Awareness Month. This brings to light an often overlooked issue within our society: men’s mental health. 

Statistically, men suffer more than women in issues concerning mental health. Male suicide rates are alarmingly higher than that of women as men die by suicide 3.65 times more often than women. 

Men are also far more likely to become substance abusers. Men are two times more likely to binge drink than women. Men are more likely to start using drugs at a younger age and become addicted to them. 

With such alarming statistics, it is natural to wonder why men suffer with mental health far more greatly than women. 

The answer lies within our own societal expectations of men. As a patriarchal society, we place high expectations upon men that they are expected to achieve. For example, men are often the “breadwinners” and are supposed to provide for their whole family. Our society associates showing emotion with weakness and therefore showing emotion is a quality only acceptable for women. 

 

When men show emotion they are criticized, told to toughen up, and that “boys don't cry.” By not allowing men to show their emotions, we stunt them. This leads to some men never learning how to properly process their emotions in a healthy and productive way. When men cannot handle the stress in their life, they are more likely to rely on drugs and alcohol rather than turning to someone for help.  

Men of all age groups are affected by mental health issues, especially those in college. College students are one of the groups that suffer the most with mental health. A 2020 survey reported that 40% of college students have experienced depression. Young adults from the ages of 18-25 are at the highest risk of suffering from several mental health issues.

In order to improve male mental health, we must first break the confining gender roles that are placed upon us as a society. Men should be allowed to show their emotions without fear of judgement and retribution. Asking for help is never something one should feel ashamed or scared to do. 

There are many resources available at Orange Coast College for students who are suffering with mental illness. OCC offers short term therapy and crisis interventions for students. Listed below are the links for more information on those resources.

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