What does it mean to be a man?
Starting as teens, most males spend a large portion of our waking hours trying to be a man.*
*We spend the other times trying desperately to avoid looking like less of one.
We are taught early: Boys are tough. Boys don't cry.
We go to school, start to work, build families, and aspire to be men.
For many of us, being a man means being self-sufficient, confident, competent, resilient, responsible, and in control of our emotions.
Regardless of upbringing, profession, schooling, race, faith, or who we love, we want more of that stuff we call manliness.
Where does mental wellness fit in to being a man?
Men tend to hide our vulnerabilities from the world, and talking about our feelings* can seem like navigating a minefield.
*We may not even know what to call those things. More about that in a future post.
Where do we turn when our anxieties get the better of us, when we experience trauma or serious changes to mood, when we struggle with addictions or destructive behaviors?
Many of us try to ignore them and move on to tasks that seem more pressing: going to work, finishing school, raising a family, paying our bills.
Bottling up our anxieties, traumas, mood changes, addictions, and destructive behaviors almost never makes them go away.
Seeking help gets a bad rap.
Like many men, I pride myself on having a strong internal sense of direction.*
*No, I'm not lost, and no, I won't stop to ask directions, thank you very much.
Self-navigating may not steer us far off course, if we're searching for the nearest bank or making the drive from Louisville to Cleveland.
If we're climbing to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro, on the other hand... Surely reaching the top of the African continent will require a little guidance.
Help won't absolve us of our responsibilities as men. We still have to do the work to get to the top, but help might just keep us from circling around base camp for a week without making any headway.
Conquering mental wellness over a man's lifetime is a lot like climbing Kilimanjaro.
For some men, the terrain will be rockier than for others.
For all of us, the weather will be harsher on some days and milder on others.
All of us could use a hand.
Why Man Over Mind?
Over the course of our lives:
- One in ten men will experience major depression.
- One in eight men will be affected by impairing anxiety.
- One in five men will struggle with substance use.
Of the people who die by suicide each year, nearly 80% are men. Fewer than half of those men received mental health services before taking their lives.
By 2020, depression is expected to be the second-leading cause of lost work productivity in men, around the world.
Men, the stakes of struggling in silence are high.
Sweeping our mental wellness under the rug does a disservice to our lives, to our families, and to our fellow man.
Man Over Mind is devoted to raising awareness about the unique aspects of mental health in men's lives.
- Weekly discussions about men's experiences with changes to mood, behavior, thoughts, self-esteem, body image, relationships, addictions, and more.
- Important questions for men to ask ourselves about resilience, relationships, and coping strategies.
- Answers to common concerns and questions about mental healthcare, including how to seek mental health or crisis services, when your doctor might choose to prescribe a medication, what type of therapies are available to treat PTSD, and more.
- Considerations for mental health providers in working with men and improving men's access to mental healthcare.
Together, we are stronger men.
Beginning November 2017:
- What is this chemical imbalance stuff, anyway?
- Depression: When is a funk more than a funk?
- Why didn't I see it coming? Coping in a world filled with losses.