Men's Health Month: Exploring The Link Between Physical And Mental Health

Medically reviewed by Laura Angers Maddox, NCC, LPC
Updated May 15, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Do you feel reluctant to seek out mental health support?

While everyone generally needs to pay attention to their well-being, Men's Health Month usually focuses specifically on men's wellness. It can be crucial for men to care for their physical and mental health by living healthy lifestyles, leaning on their support systems when necessary, and seeking professional help from doctors and mental health professionals as needed. A convenient way to reach out for professional support regarding mental health concerns may be through an online therapy platform.

What is Men's Health Month, and when does it happen?

Men's Health Month can be thought of as a time when men and boys are encouraged to pay attention to their physical and mental health. This can involve healthy habits like exercise, eating right, getting enough rest, and seeing a doctor when health problems arise. Men’s Health Month can also encourage men of all ages to seek help for potential mental health conditions. 

The need for this awareness involves statistics such as men usually dying earlier than women, with males typically living an average of 75.1 years and females normally living for around 80.5 years. 

Men also tend to die at higher rates from the most common causes of death, such as cancer, diabetes, and accidents. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) generally states that accidents, like drowning, occupational mishaps, and firework accidents, can be a leading cause of death in men. 

In addition, males can be almost twice as likely as females to die in car accidents. Furthermore, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.8% of men aged 18 and over may be in fair or poor health. During Men’s Health Month, we often urge men to enrich their health and wellness through proper screenings and care.

Although men can face unique health problems, they also tend to experience many of the same issues as women. However, men are often more reluctant to see a doctor when health problems arise, including mental health conditions like depression, which can often go untreated in men. 

Men's Health Month usually occurs each June, during the same month as Father's Day. It is a national observance that is typically meant to raise awareness of the importance of men caring for their physical and mental health. It can encourage the early detection of diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, as well as mental health conditions like depression.

Addressing men’s mental health

Men’s Health Month usually includes an emphasis on mental health. Mental illnesses can impact physical health by causing stomach aches, sleep disorders, and headaches, and can even lead to more serious medical issues through behavioral health problems. For example, more men tend to smoke tobacco than women. Because tobacco generally has addictive qualities and can alter brain chemistry, it may also impact mental health.

In the past, doctors were usually more concerned with physical health markers and could sometimes neglect the mental health struggles of their patients. Now, health professionals tend to consider both physical and psychological health equally. You can promote positive well-being by paying attention to all aspects of your mind and body and checking in regularly with yourself. Consider speaking with a therapist to discuss mental health concerns and talk with your doctor about any medical symptoms.

Some mental health challenges can be prevalent in the male population, including the following:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

This condition is usually caused by experiencing one or multiple traumatizing events in war, natural disasters, crime, or interpersonal abuse*. Potential symptoms can include flashbacks, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, and depression. Not everyone who goes through a traumatic event may develop PTSD, but approximately 1.8% of men may have PTSD at some point in their lives. 

Substance use disorder

Substance use disorder can be a top mental health issue for men, and it usually affects more males than females. For example, males can be twice as likely to binge drink in comparison to females. A substance use disorder may involve problems with alcohol, marijuana, prescription painkillers, and other legal and illegal substances. 

In addition, peer pressure and stereotypes about masculinity can prompt men and boys to engage in behaviors that put them at greater risk of a substance use disorder. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says substance use disorder can be one of the top mental health concerns for men and boys and can be linked to other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. 

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders can also be an important issue in men’s mental health. These conditions are usually marked by persistent feelings of worry, nervousness, or panic. They can include phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Men diagnosed with an anxiety disorder typically have higher rates of substance use disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Depression

Depression can be characterized by a sad or low mood lasting more than two weeks. Depression can also have other symptoms, including guilt, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and thoughts of suicide*. Men and women generally have similar rates of depression, but men may have a 3.5 times greater risk of dying by suicide than women, potentially making this mental health concern especially important for men. 

Overcoming mental health challenges for men

There may be various resources for men to turn to when struggling with mental health challenges. 

Maintain your physical health

The mind-body connection can be powerful. You can promote positive mental health by taking care of your physical health. Remember to get a good night's sleep, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated, and exercise daily. Exercise can be an effective treatment for many cases of depression and can positively impact many other mental health disorders as well.

Lean on your support system

Opening up to trusted friends and family members when you have a health problem or another concern can offer support and encouragement to be as healthy as possible. In addition, research suggests that socializing usually has a positive effect on physical and mental health.   

Do you feel reluctant to seek out mental health support?

Seek professional support

Speaking with a licensed mental health professional can equip you with new coping skills for moving forward. The process may take some time, but with patience, you can learn strategies for emotional control, positive self-talk, and boundary-setting. There can be both online and face-to-face options for therapy, each of which can have its own benefits.

Experiencing any type of physical or mental illness can be difficult. While there may not be a clear solution in front of you, taking small steps whenever possible can be one way of progressing toward health goals. Over time, those little steps can add up and make a positive difference in your life. By trying different techniques and listening to your body and emotions, you can find health strategies that work for you.

Benefits of online therapy

As some people don’t like the idea of visiting a local therapist’s office and attending sessions in person, online therapy can be an excellent alternative. Online therapy can enable you to get the professional guidance you deserve from the comfort of your home or any other location with an internet connection. You can easily switch therapists until you find a professional you feel comfortable with. 

Effectiveness of online therapy

Not only can online therapy be convenient, but it can also be effective. Regardless of the mental health challenges or concerns you may be seeking help for, research states that online therapy usually has the same level of effectiveness as face-to-face therapy.

Takeaway

Men's Health Month can provide an opportunity to consider boys’ and men’s physical and mental well-being. If you’re a man, you might make sure to maintain your physical health, lean on your support system, and seek professional help if needed. If you’re not a man, you can provide support by holding the men in your life accountable to their personal health goals, whether by eating nutritious meals with them or accompanying them to the gym. You might also encourage your loved ones to visit a doctor or therapist if they display signs of an untreated physical or mental health condition.
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