The stigma about men’s mental health is one that is detrimental to society. False beliefs about mental illnesses can lead to tragedies, such as suicide. Suicide is something that sadly, we have to deal with daily. Suicide is a consequence of having poor mental health, which is why it’s key to understand the importance of mental health. Deborah Stone who wrote “Changes in Suicide” said, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States overall, and the second and fourth leading cause among persons aged 10–34 and 35–44 years” (Stone, 2021). If the stigma about men is not broken, these numbers will keep growing. To break the stigma, it is necessary to understand the effects of social media and COVID-19 on men’s mental health, as well as the need for men to ask for help.
Mental Health & Social Media
Mental health is greatly affected by social media. In the modern world today, we are surrounded by different forms of social media and have access to many different types of technology. Social media is a way for people to stay connected, but can also make you feel like you’re disconnected. Most people only associate social media with women, but men are greatly influenced by the media as well. According to Sarah McKenzie from the American Journal of Men’s Health, “Men described feelings of loneliness, sadness, and distress and actively sought emotional support” (McKenzie, 2018). Social media makes men feel as if they are alone and have no outlet (Wilson 2020). This leads to poor mental health and developing mental illnesses. Another way social media negatively impacts users, specifically men, is the unrealistic posts that fill our feeds. The internet has made us believe that the people on social media are perfect and living a better life than us. Men easily find themselves looking at a picture on social media and developing thoughts of loneliness or self-consciousness. One author states that, “Even if you know that images you’re viewing on social media are manipulated, they can still make you feel insecure about how you look or what’s going on in your own life” (Robinson, 2021). Men look online and see pictures of other men that they look nothing like. The insecurities men create for themselves by constantly looking at social media updates, can be detrimental to their mental health. An easy solution would be to delete all social media, but in today’s technological world, that’s easier said than done. Technology allows us to stay connected to friends, family, coworkers, teachers, etc. Completely getting rid of social media is an unconventional way of dealing with this, because most communication is via the internet nowadays.
Mental Health & COVID-19
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has affected the whole world. Through isolation and social distancing, COVID-19 has become a leading cause of poor mental health as “Presently, about one third of Americans say they have experienced ‘high levels’ of psychological distress such as anxiety, sleeplessness or depression at some point during the extended period of social distancing because of the present circumstances” (Piore, 2020). COVID-19 is similar to social media, in the way that it makes people feel lonely. Not being able to leave your house or have physical contact with people, takes a toll on your mental health. This especially affects men as “Men tend to have fewer friendships than women and those friendships tend to be activity-based” (Ellison, 2021). This fact shows the difficulties men face being able to talk to people about their struggles with friends, let alone during a global pandemic where they have no contact. Everything men are struggling with just stays bundled up inside of them until they explode. The financial burden of COVID-19 has also played a huge part in the rise of poor mental health for men. Many people are losing their jobs and it is becoming harder for those individuals to provide for their families (Khan, 2020). It is widely believed that men are the ones that have to provide for their family, so all of the weight is placed on them. Dealing with this weight can be hard. Some individuals deal with mental illnesses differently than others. The COVID-19 era has forced many people to believe the only way of combatting their mental illness, is with suicide. Suicide rates have exploded in the past two years, after COVID-19 hit and are still not finished yet because scientists predicted an additional 154,037 suicides related to Covid would still happen (Piore, 2020).
Asking For Help
When it comes to mental health, men have this stigma in their head that they will be seen as weak if they reach out to people. An article in the Official Journal of the American Psychopathological Association said “Women are twice as likely as men to experience major depression, yet women in the United States commit suicide at only one fourth of the rate that men do” (Murphy, 1998). These statistics clearly show a consequence of men not being able to ask for help. Women are more likely to have mental illnesses, but they feel like they can reach out to talk about their feelings. The contrast describes men. Men are less likely to have mental illnesses, but they keep their thoughts to themselves. In the same article by George Murphy he wrote, “In the competitive world of men, displaying weakness gives advantage to others, and men do not consider it good form to do so. Men will even conceal the depth of their despair from the psychiatrist or counselor they have reluctantly agreed to consult, and the decision to commit suicide is taken alone” (Murphy, 1998). Men consider mental health to be something they cannot talk about. They do not want to be seen as weak or reveal their feelings to others. Even when seeking professional help, men feel uncomfortable talking about their struggles and then just stop all together, leading to extremities such as suicide (Murphy, 1998).
Men’s mental health is greatly affected by technology and science. Social media is a leading cause for poor mental health and contributes to the national suicide rate of men. In today’s society, with everyone having social media, it is hard to hide from the negative effects that the media brings. With the global pandemic, the amount of mental illnesses in men are increasing and the world of science is working night and day. COVID-19 has caused most men to feel burdened or stressed. This leads to the inability for many of them to ask for help. Men choose to keep their thoughts bottled up and feel less masculine when they do ask for help. Society is constantly being affected by many components, including technology and science. But is imperative that we take advantage of these components to break the mental health stigma about men, which will lead to a reduction in suicide rates.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2021, September 9). Suicide Statistics. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/
Ellison, J. (2021, July 6). COVID-19 and MENtal Health: Addressing Men’s Mental Health Needs in the Digital World. American Journal of Men’s Health. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/15579883211030021
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, May 24). Mental health: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/in-depth/mental-health/art-20046477
Murphy, G. (1998, July). Why Women are Less Likely Than Men to Commit Suicide. ScienceDirect. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010440X98900578
Wilson, M. (2020, December 27). Virtual connection, real support? A study of loneliness, time on social media and psychological distress among men. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0020764020983836?casa_token=JV1C43NhJ3oAAAAA%3Av5gntXsG6YlNtu85ExtI6gYUuxfGk43z-wuoI7c-0AqEkuhvCV35rnBj4MldhaKhyTgjnXjzpWyq
Khan, A. (2020, June 25). Men, Suicide, and Covid-19: Critical Masculinity Analyses and Interventions. Springer. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42438-020-00152-1