Countless studies around the world indicate that men are less likely to address the state of their mental health and are more than twice as likely to take their own lives as compared to women. A 2016 survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation showed that among 2500 people, one-third of women (33%) who disclosed a mental health problem to a friend or loved one did so within a month, compared to only one-quarter of men (25%). Samaritans of Singapore revealed that in 2020, Singaporean males account for more than 70% of all suicides.
Men are less likely to discuss mental health problems because of societal expectations and traditional gender roles. The outdated, ridiculous belief that the ‘toughness’ of a man is measured by his ability to endure hardships is one of the main obstacles to men admitting that they are struggling. They are often expected to be strong, brave and dominant. Though none of these traits are inherently bad, it is crucial to understand that the expectations can be damaging.
“Men are often aware that ‘something is off’ with them, but they won’t recognize that ‘something’ as a mental illness.”
Spotting the signs
The symptoms that men and women experience when struggling with their mental health are similar in most cases. Different people have different symptoms, but the most prominent ones are namely:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Frequent mood swings
- Constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue
- Excessive worrying
- High sensitivity
Though these symptoms are universal, some are more prevalent in men:
- Substance abuse
- Anger and irritability
- Working obsessively
- Reckless behaviour
What should I do if I’m concerned about my mental health?
- Connect with a loved one
Maintaining good relationships with your family and friends is important for your mental wellbeing. It gives you a sense of belonging and makes you aware that you have a support system to fall back on. Watch a movie with your family or arrange a board game night with your friends – anything that helps you create positive experiences.
- Get your body moving
Besides keeping your body fit, studies have shown that being physically active can cause chemical changes in your brain and lighten your mood. Being active doesn’t just mean going to the gym or playing a sport. Walks in the park, going fishing or doing housework can also keep you active.
- Do something you’re good at
What do you enjoy doing? What activities do you love getting immersed in? Stress can be reduced by having fun. Doing something you enjoy means you’re most likely good at it, and it will boost your confidence.
- Practice mindfulness
Try to live in the moment. This means being more attentive towards your thoughts, surroundings and the people you interact with everyday. Mindfulness is a great tool to help understand yourself better and find solace.
- Seek professional help
Acknowledging that you need help is the first step to the betterment of your mental wellbeing, and there is absolutely no shame in doing so. Get rid of all the preconceived notions that you have to always be strong – none of us are superhumans. If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at the list of services that we have compiled here.
What to do when you notice someone struggling
If you’re concerned about a family member, friend or colleague, here are a few things you can do to help them:
- Reach out. It may be difficult for someone struggling with their mental health to reach out to people, so try to keep in contact often and let them know that they’re not alone.
- Listen without judgement. Sharing one’s personal issues takes a lot of trust, so it is important to keep an open mind, listen and pay attention to their needs.
- Talk about self-care. There are countless videos and articles on the internet that talk about the betterment of one’s well being. Share your resources and ask them if there’s any form of self care that they’d like to try out. Meditating, going for scenic walks or taking a nice long bath are great examples.
- Encourage them to seek help. Reassure them that there is nothing wrong with asking for help, and you may assist to explore their options if they’re comfortable.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact:
Institute of Mental Health (24h): 6389 2222
Samaritans of Singapore (24h): 1-767
Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800 283 7019
National CARE hotline: 1800 202 6868
TOUCHline (Counselling): 1800 377 2252
Care Corner Counselling Centre: 1800 353 5800