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Navigating the Landscape of Men and Mental Health

Navigating the Landscape of Men and Mental Health

In Germany, a significant number of men grapple with psychological issues, often choosing to overlook them. On the occasion of International Men’s Day (November 19), experts shed light on this concerning trend. Many men, burdened by exhaustion, overwhelmed by accumulated stress, and haunted by unresolved lows, refrain from seeking assistance. Why is this the case, and what are the consequences?

Masculinity and Mental Health

Anne-Maria Möller-Leimkühler, a board member of the Men’s Health Foundation, emphasizes that for many, especially older men, mental illnesses clash with traditional ideals of masculinity. The inclination to be strong, successful, tackle problems alone, endure without showing vulnerability, is deeply ingrained. This adherence to traditional norms can be profoundly self-damaging.

Limited Access to Emotions

Professor Möller-Leimkühler, specializing in Social Scientific Psychiatry at the University of Munich, observes that socialization often limits men’s access to their emotional realm. Men tend to suppress and downplay their psychological issues, with depression frequently misunderstood as a sign of personal weakness and failure.

Coping Strategies

In attempts to cope, some resort to what Möller-Leimkühler terms “male strategies”—increased aggression, alcohol consumption, social withdrawal, excessive work, intensified sports engagement, riskier behavior, and escapism into the virtual realm.

Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in Men

Anette Kersting from the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine at the University Hospital Leipzig highlights that approximately one in four adults in Germany experiences a mental health issue within a year. Notably, men tend to suffer more from substance abuse, including alcohol and drug dependency, while depression is diagnosed only about half as often in men as in women.

Unseen Burdens

Möller-Leimkühler suggests a significant underdiagnosis and underreporting of depression in men. Undetected depression can lead to severe consequences, including disability, social decline, isolation, anxiety disorders, diabetes, stroke, and an overall increased mortality rate. Alarmingly, the suicide rate among men is at least three times higher than that of women.

Navigating the Landscape of Men and Mental Health

Occupational Impact

Psychological disorders are not confined to specific professions but, according to Möller-Leimkühler, certain male-dominated sectors like the military, emergency services, and police see a higher prevalence of mental health issues.

Intense and traumatic stressors combined with stringent adherence to traditional masculinity norms contribute to conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Generally, men experience higher levels of stressors in the workplace compared to women.

Overcoming Societal Expectations

Recognizing symptoms and seeking help constitute vital components of health literacy. Kersting notes gender disparities in healthcare utilization, with men availing themselves of support services significantly less often than women. The shortage of available spots for therapy is problematic, as individuals in weakened life situations cannot afford lengthy waits for a therapeutic space.

Sebastian Jakobi, a psychologist advising companies on occupational health, acknowledges the changing narrative around male pain tolerance. He observes a generational shift, with younger men displaying more openness to mindfulness, reflection, seeking help, and accepting support—essential elements of health literacy.

The Road Ahead

While societal expectations persist, Jakobi sees a positive trend toward destigmatizing mental health issues. Increased focus on psychological factors and improved diagnostic awareness, even within the medical community, indicates progress. However, Jakobi cautions against assuming that digital mental health apps can substitute personalized therapy with a psychotherapist, emphasizing the invaluable human touch in therapeutic interactions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the complex relationship between masculinity and mental health calls for continued efforts to redefine societal expectations. Encouraging men to recognize, express, and seek assistance for their mental health challenges is not just a personal journey but a societal imperative for improved well-being and reduced stigma.


Original source: This information was Initially covered by pz.de and has been translated for our readers.

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