Addressing the unique challenges of men’s mental health

Written by

Rhonda Matthew-Garcia

Published on

All ArticlesWorkplace Health and Safety
Man undergoing mental health therapy

Men’s mental health has long been a neglected and often overlooked issue, despite the significant impact it has on individuals, families and communities. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the critical need to address the unique challenges that men face when it comes to their emotional well-being.

From societal expectations that discourage men from expressing vulnerability, to the stigma and shame associated with seeking help, the barriers to accessing support and resources for men’s mental health are multifaceted and deeply rooted. As a result, men are less likely to seek professional help, more likely to engage in risky behaviours and more susceptible to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse that affect their ability to be effective in life and business.

One in eight men facing mental health disorder

According to a recent study by Forbes Health Magazine, in an article on mental health statistics and facts, it was reported that one in eight men in the United States will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetime, yet only a fraction of them will receive the support and treatment they need.
This silent crisis has far-reaching consequences, as untreated mental health issues can lead to strained relationships, job loss, physical health problems, and in the most tragic cases, suicide. Men’s mental health has been a blind spot in our healthcare system for far too long, according to Dr Michael Hennessy, a clinical psychologist and director of the Men’s Mental Health Clinic in the United States. Men’s health issues must be urgently addressed to change the societal and cultural norms that discourage men from seeking help and prioritising their emotional well-being.

One of the primary challenges in addressing men’s mental health is the deeply ingrained notion of masculinity that often prevents men from acknowledging their struggles and vulnerabilities. The pervasive idea that “real men” should be stoic, strong, and self-reliant can make it incredibly difficult for men to reach out for support, fearing that doing so would be a sign of weakness or failure.

There is this underlying belief that men should be able to ‘tough it out’ and handle their problems on their own, a culture we know too well. But the reality is that mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of gender. We need to challenge these outdated and harmful stereotypes and create a culture where men feel empowered to prioritise their mental health.

Most programmes designed with women in mind

Another significant barrier to addressing men’s mental health is the lack of accessible and tailored resources. Many traditional mental health services and programmes are designed with women in mind, often failing to consider the unique experiences and preferences of men. This can discourage men from seeking help, as they may not feel the available services are relevant or relatable to their needs.
EAP practitioners and psychologists have created safe spaces to allow men to open up and connect, which can be liberating.

In addition to specialised programmes, there is also a growing recognition of the need to integrate men’s mental health into broader healthcare and community-based initiatives. This includes incorporating mental health screenings into routine check-ups, educating primary care providers on the unique needs of men, and leveraging digital technologies to expand access to remote and personalised support.
One of the most promising developments in men’s mental health is the rise of online and mobile-based resources. These platforms allow men to access information, get much-needed support, and even receive virtual counselling discreetly and conveniently, which can be especially important for those who may be hesitant to seek in-person assistance. Such services can be accessible in the comfort of one’s home or office.

To address this gap, through the collaborative efforts of healthcare providers, HRMATT has launched a Wellness Hub, having partnered with PatientConnect, to make healthcare resources available for individuals and partner organisations to address and increase awareness to enable organisations to inculcate specialised programmes and support specifically for men and by extension all employees. These initiatives aim to create safe and judgement-free spaces where men and women can openly discuss their struggles, learn coping strategies, and access the support they need without feeling stigmatised or misunderstood.

Breaking down the stigma

Another crucial aspect of addressing men’s mental health is the need to foster open and honest dialogues within families, workplaces, and communities. By breaking down the stigma and encouraging men to share their experiences, we can create a more supportive and understanding environment that empowers them to prioritise their mental well-being.

It’s not enough to simply provide resources and services – we need to fundamentally change the way we talk about and approach mental health, especially when it comes to men. We need to normalise these conversations and make it clear that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
HRMATT’s advocacy prowess is dedicated to raising awareness, promoting education, and advocating for policy changes that address the unique needs of men. Our Advocacy Committee’s collaborations continue to be forged with healthcare providers and policymakers, to transform the landscape of men’s mental health in T&T.

HRMATT empowering men

HRMATT’s mandate is to empower men and women to take charge of their mental health and to create a society that supports and celebrates their emotional well-being. We believe that eradicating the systemic barriers and cultural norms that have long hindered access to mental health resources, can ultimately save lives and strengthen our communities and families.

We recognised one of the key initiatives for the Men’s Mental Health Month campaign, which takes place every June, is to give men a platform to address issues related to men’s health. Through a series of events, workshops, and public awareness efforts, HRMATT hosted an event on June 29th, 2024, themed “Unmasking Strength: Men’s Mental Health in Business at the Humidor868 Lounge. Our organisation continues to prioritise mental health, provide support when needed, and become advocates for change within our communities.

As we continue to navigate the complex and multifaceted challenges of men’s mental health, a holistic, collaborative, and compassionate approach will be a critical success factor. By breaking down the stigma, expanding access to specialised resources, and fostering open dialogues within our families, workplaces, and communities, we can create a future where men feel supported, empowered, and free to prioritise their emotional well-being.

For information on how you can access a mental healthcare provider through HRMATT’s Wellness Hub, please contact HRMATT at 687-5523 or via email to find about our partnership through PatientConnect.

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