From a Community Health Expert: Understanding Men’s Mental Health  

Omar Jones is a force to be reckoned with in the community health profession. With nearly a decade of experience in community health leadership, Jones’s career showcases countless initiatives that have impacted his community. From HIV prevention and harm reduction work to diversity and cultural humility initiatives, Jones is a visionary, innovator and catalyst for progress. Jones is also a passionate mental health advocate. 

Mental health refers to a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. It encompasses a person’s ability to manage stress, relate to others, make choices and cope with life’s challenges. Good mental health is fundamental for a healthy life; it impacts how individuals think, feel and act in every moment and interaction. Because mental health is a dynamic state, it can change over time and varies from person to person.  

Jones understands firsthand the importance of prioritizing mental health. “Good mental health is important for an individual’s overall health and well-being,” Jones explains. “Just as physical health is critical to daily function, mental health plays a significant role in our capacity to enjoy life, cope with challenges, achieve goals and work productively.” 

Unfortunately, despite the evident importance of mental health, it is often overlooked for a specific group: Men.  

Where is Men’s Mental Health Now? 

While discussions surrounding mental health have become prevalent in recent years, there’s significant stigma surrounding men’s mental health. Men’s struggles with their emotional and psychological well-being are often ignored or stigmatized – meaning they are judged harshly or unfairly. As any person does, men experience many emotional ups and downs. Addressing their mental health concerns is crucial for fostering healthier individuals, families and communities. But there are barriers to doing so. 

Jones explains the unique barriers to addressing men’s mental health. First, a masculine norm stigmatizes men’s mental health concerns. “Many cultures and communities have conditioned men to be ‘strong’ and not to show vulnerability or emotions. Admitting to mental health struggles might be perceived as a sign of weakness, which can prevent men from seeking help.” 

An additional challenge to solving men’s mental health problems comes from the systems and services themselves. “Many mental health programs are not tailored specifically for men, which can reduce their effectiveness in addressing unique issues men face,” Jones says. And the existing programs often have long wait times and require high fees for service. “Some men also fear discrimination or negative judgment based on their mental health status, especially if they belong to a minority group or have other intersecting identities. Past negative experiences or stories from others can create mistrust in the health system, making men hesitant to seek out services.”  

However, Jones emphasizes that this stigma is only hurting men, not helping them. “Good mental health means being able to think clearly, manage feelings, make decisions, handle stress, relate to others and maintain fulfilling relationships.” When stigma prevents men from getting mental health help, it also keeps them from living the fulfilling lives they deserve. So what can be done? 

Shatter the Stigma: 6 Proven Steps for Men’s Mental Health 

The stigma surrounding men’s mental health can prevent them from seeking and receiving the help and support they need. Although many changes are needed at a societal level, there are steps you can take in your everyday life and community to help shatter the stigma.  

  1. Promote Mental Health Awareness: Help raise awareness and destigmatize men’s mental health by encouraging conversations about emotions, stressors and the importance of seeking help. Challenge stereotypes that may discourage men from expressing their feelings. Normalize seeking therapy or counseling as a sign of strength, not weakness. You can do this by posting on social media, sharing resources with your network and encouraging open conversations in your everyday life.  
  1. Foster Supportive Relationships: Friends, family and partners are crucial in providing emotional support and a safe space for men to discuss their mental health concerns. Talk to the men in your life. Be open about your mental health, and be encouraging about the steps they take to care for their mental health. 
  1. Provide Accessible Resources: Mental health services and resources should be readily available, accessible and affordable. You can create community-based support groups tailored to men’s needs. You can also share free resources like 211 and the 988 crisis line in local coffee shops, libraries and other settings. 
  1. Promote Work-Life Balance: Work environments prioritizing work-life balance and mental well-being can significantly improve mental health. Advocate for employers to offer flexible schedules, mental health days and stress management programs. Educate workplaces about the importance of addressing mental health concerns among male employees. 
  1. Educate and Intervene Early: School and community leaders can advocate for mental health education programs in schools and workplaces. These programs teach emotional intelligence, coping strategies and stress management skills. Additionally, schools can incorporate early intervention and support programs to identify at-risk and in-need students, which can prevent mental health issues from escalating. 
  1. Get certified. You can still become certified in crucial mental health services even if you are not a licensed mental health provider or therapist. Mental Health First Aid is a nationally recognized program that teaches people how to identify and intervene in mental health crises.  

At Everyday Life Consulting, we believe in protecting and preserving men’s mental health. Follow us on social media for more articles and posts about necessary personal and community steps to destigmatize men’s mental health. 

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