The importance of maintaining good mental health may be growing, but for half the population, mental health education and support may be falling short of what’s needed.
A survey conducted of men aged 18 to 88 throughout downtown Toronto by the Helix Healthcare Group and U.S.- based non-profit the Men’s Health Network showed that 79 per cent of men feel the issue of men’s mental health is not sufficiently addressed in today’s society.
Dr. Jesse Hanson of the Helix Healthcare Group noted that both as a professional and as a man who grew up in a culture where men’s mental health was rarely if ever discussed, the findings were unsurprising.
He hopes the landscape changes, however, for the good of all men.
“It would help to provide the clinical research and scientific information to men at large about the physical and neurological damage they’re doing by not addressing the issue,” he said.
Indeed, studies have shown that not properly dealing with anger, grief and stress can cause a bevy of health problems. By opening up that discussion, Hanson said men might start getting the message.
“A lot of men dismiss talk about mental health, but if you tell them ‘your lack of emotion is going to give you a heart attack or contribute to cancer’ they’ll sit up and listen,” he said.
The findings did offer some hope – the younger the respondents were, the more likely they were to say men’s mental health needs to be more of a priority.
“Millennials are reading up on the data, which is becoming more mainstream, that stresses the importance of having a healthy emotional identity,” Hanson said.
The culture of machismo is also dwindling, with fewer men today seeing mental health issues as a sign of weakness than ever before, though Hanson pointed out many men are replacing that with a drive for money and work success. He said a cultural shift is still needed to put the proper emphasis on men’s mental health.
“Systemically, if we can influence (political and business) leaders so taking care of their mental health is part of their job, that will raise a lot of awareness,” he said.
Helix will conduct Conscious Masculinity courses later this year to address the problem, something Hanson hopes other clinics and agencies will join the movement to change the discussion surrounding men’s mental health.