Mental health has long been connected to a stigma, secretiveness, and misconception. Men especially were told throughout the history of evolution to be tough, stoic, and emotionally restrained. This could have applied during the period of hunter-gatherers where men were supposed to be the providers and the protectors of the family. But did this stigma of emotional suppression in men evolve in the current day and age and work-life balance? Or are men harming themselves in the veil of masculinity?

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, there are 12.5 million male population currently residing in Australia with a median age of 37 years. Here are some key statistics that throw light on the need for immediate action to ensure men’s mental health is protected:
  • 43% of Australian men between the ages of 16-85 experienced a mental disorder at some point of time in life.
  • 1 in 4 men experience anxiety disorder.
  • 1 in 8 men experience depression.
  • 72% of males do not seek help for mental illness.
  • 1 in 2 Australians report feeling more lonely post covid in a study by Swinburne University.

According to the National Men’s Health Strategy 2020-20306, Aboriginal and Torres strait islander men have 10 years less life expectancy. Some of these deaths have preventable causes. The findings of the strategy were that men in general have less access to the health care system due to various socio-economic and socio-demographic factors such as more men living in rural/remote areas, unemployed, not enough after-hours GPs (General Practitioner), men’s preference for male doctors and their unavailability or long wait times and having a stigma with help-seeking or men’s health.

When men reach out for a consultation it is usually when the condition or illness is more advanced. The strategy also signifies the need for telehealth systems like a online doctor service such as Hola Health to reduce the burden on the system as well as give healthcare accessibility at the click of a button.
Men are more likely to ignore the symptoms of a mental illnesses as they will brush away until it affects their physical health. Some of the major mental illness reported by the Black dog institute in Australian men are depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, dementia, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder with the first three being in significant numbers. Men should understand the symptoms of the disease to identify that they have one. Let us look a little closer at these issues:

Depression: Everybody will have an off day and that is okay. One can be sad, irritable, angry, and reclusive sometimes, but what if this happens for over two weeks. Most men do not realise that they are clinically depressed unless physiological symptoms show up in the body such as feeling tired, changes in weight, losing interest in regular activities and not liking to speak to people or socialize.

Depression could happen because of genetics, unemployment, the personality of a person, living in remote/rural areas, substance abuse or due to ageing8. If you or any of your male friend is experiencing any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, it is important to consult a doctor immediately.

Anxiety: Feeling panicked, excessive fear, worry, insomnia, headaches, racing heart, and restlessness are some of the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. This attacks a person when they are in a situation, they are not comfortable with. There are many different types of anxiety attacks the main being:
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder (panic when mingling with people)
  • Specific phobia such as claustrophobia (anxiety caused due to confined spaces or animals such as spiders or when travelling on an airplane etc.)
  • Perinatal, antenatal, or postnatal anxiety (Yes, men do experience it)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Anxiety occurred by revisiting the events of an incident in life that caused excessive stress)
  • Anxiety due to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

Substance abuse and depression fall in a vicious cycle category where one promotes the other and vice versa. According to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019, around 9 million Australians accepted that have done substance abuse or illicit drug use at least once in their lives. Though alcohol consumption is lessening due to health concerns and to avoid hangovers, there is no change in the proportion of people drinking at risky levels.
In this culture of dismissal, mental illness of men could take a dangerous turn leading to self-harm. If you or anyone you know is suffering from an initial symptom of an oncoming mental disorder, it is easy to get an appointment on the Hola Health’s Mental health consultation which is 100% Medicare bulk billed and get yourself a Mental healthcare Treatment Plan. The consultation is fully bulk billed ($0) for those with a valid Medicare card. This easy 4 step process will ensure you can access mental healthcare from anywhere without traveling to the clinic or visiting your local hospital.

Alternatively, a person can also get an appointment with a doctor. People with valid Medicare card can claim back a partial rebate from Medicare once after the consultation is completed.
It is a stressful world and we do not need to add self-inflicted stress of masculinity to it. There are many ways to cope up with the daily bouts of depression and anxiety which will be an added advantage to the Mental Healthcare Treatment Plan, such as:
  • Joining various volunteer or peer-support organizations that support your illness.
  • Keeping physically healthy and fit.
  • Getting involved in community activities that do not have alcohol or other substances.
  • Reducing intake of alcohol, Tobacco etc.
  • Spending time with loved ones
  • Meditation and practicing deep breathing.
  • Joining activity or hobby clubs.

In conclusion, the evolution of men not showing emotions is a complex interplay of evolutionary, cultural, and societal factors. While there may be historical reasons for such behaviour, it is essential to recognize that these are not rigid rules but rather patterns that have been subject to change and adaptation over time. Encouraging emotional expression and providing a safe space for individuals to share their feelings is vital for personal well-being and building healthier relationships today.

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Disclaimer

This content is created for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. For emergencies please immediately contact 000.