Men's Mental Health: Warning Signs & Where to Go for Help
Men typically don't want to discuss mental health issues, much less get treatment for one.
That's a problem, given how many males struggle with mental health problems: Six million American men suffer from depression every year, while 3 million struggle with anxiety disorder, according to Mental Health America. Beyond that, 90% of those diagnosed with schizophrenia by age 30 are men, and 25% of those with binge eating disorder are males. Unfortunately, men are less likely to seek professional help for their problems.
When it comes to suicide, the picture is also troubling. While women are more likely to attempt suicide, it is the 7th leading cause of death among males, and white men over the age of 85 are the most likely to die by suicide.
Here, experts describe the most common mental health conditions men experience, the symptoms that may differ in men versus women, and what resources are available for those seeking help and treatment options.
Common mental health conditions in men
According to Mental Health America, the most common men's mental health conditions are:
“It's a sign of strength to talk about these issues with your health care provider, counselor or a supportive family member or friend,” Piedmont Healthcare family medicine physician Dr. Siraj Abdullah said in a recent article. “As men, we tend to let stress build up until it affects our mental and physical health. Talking about your mental health is a way to take care of your body.”
How men's mental health symptoms may show up differently than in women
The reasons that mental health symptoms can be different for men and women are complex, according to McLean Hospital chief of psychology Kathryn McHugh.
She noted in a hospital article that “biology is not the only piece of the puzzle. There are also many social and cultural factors that play a role in mental health and wellness, such as social role expectations, discrimination and violence.”
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that the main mental health symptoms in men that may be different from those found in women are:
- Abuse or misuse of drugs or alcohol
- Noticeable changes in mood, appetite or energy levels
- Violent, controlling or abusive behavior
- Digestive issues, headaches and pain
- Escaping into work, sports or other distracting behavior
Men with depression are also more likely than women to report symptoms of fatigue and loss of interest in work or hobbies, according to Mental Health America.
Men and suicide
Men are particularly susceptible to suicide. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women, and gay and bisexual men under the age of 25 are at a higher risk for attempting suicide than the general male population, according to Mental Health America.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center notes that one of the reasons for higher male suicide rates is that men are less likely to get mental health care than women. The center suggests getting help before a mental health crisis occurs. This can include:
- Seeking behavioral health care, such as seeing a therapist
- Connecting to family, friends, community and social organizations
- Learning life skills like problem-solving and strategies for adapting to change
- Engaging with spiritual, religious or other belief practices that discourage suicide
If you'd like to begin or continue a behavioral health care plan, you can reach out to the SAMHSA National Helpline for a treatment referral.
Men's mental health resources: How to get help
APA Psychologist Locator Tool
The American Psychological Association offers a database of thousands of therapists. Just put in your ZIP code, provider name or practice area. Once the results show up, you can sort the psychologists by a variety of categories, such as gender and treatment methods.
Mental Health Hotline
If you're looking for a men's mental health hotline to discuss your issues confidentially at no charge, the Mental Health Hotline provides a toll-free number with counselors on stand-by 24/7. The organization also lists several condition-specific hotlines for health issues like anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and more — plus links to helpful resources on these conditions.
Fictional Dr. Rich Mahogany “runs” this site, which is actually administered by multiple agencies, including the Colorado Department of Public Health. It combines helpful mental health techniques and quizzes with humor and a uniquely human touch. There's an online peer chat, 20-point head inspection and a worried-about-someone page to help loved ones of men who may be experiencing mental health issues.
Therapy for Black Men
Multicultural care meets mutual aid at Therapy for Black Men, where the coaches and counselors strive to offer free or discounted services to Black men with mental health issues. You can meet in person or online for a session, and there's also a host of articles and social resources, including community organizations aimed at helping your mental health thrive.
Mental health medications
Several medications may be prescribed by your doctor to help you improve your mental health. According to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, these include:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Mood stabilizers
If you're experiencing a mental health crisis or suicidal ideation and need to talk to someone, call 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline offers free, confidential emotional support across the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.