Dr Frans Korb recently presented a webinar on major depression and male mental health. This was hosted by Medical Chronicle and sponsored by Dr. Reddy’s. The following article is based on Dr Korb’s presentation.
Mental health is a dynamic state of internal equilibrium which enables individuals to use their abilities in harmony with universal values of society.
To watch a replay of this webinar and still earn a CPD point go to: https://event.webinarjam.com/go/replay/651/q7647f688t1v7cxqmhk
It includes basic cognitive and social skills; the ability to recognise, express and modulate one’s own emotions, as well as empathise with others; flexibility and ability to cope with adverse life events and function in social roles; and harmonious relationship between body and mind represent important components of mental health which contribute, to varying degrees, to the state of internal equilibrium.
Masculine norms are the social rules and expected behaviour associated with men and manhood within a given culture. Adherence to these rigid masculine norms may lead to worsening of depression and anxiety, abuse of substances, greater health risks (cardiovascular and metabolic disease), issues with dating and interpersonal intimacy, issues with interpersonal violence, increase in overall psychological distress, discouragement in seeking help, and homophobia.
Why is men’s mental health important?
Stigma around men’s mental health means less likelihood of seeking help, using appropriate medications, poor adherence, risky behaviours, substance use disorders, trouble sleeping, problems with interpersonal relationships. This creates social isolation and rejection, which can in turn affect workplace performance. This creates risk of suicide, financial instability, homelessness, and incarceration. This leads to worse symptoms, increase mortality rates, with associated increase in healthcare costs, psychological distress and physical health (heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, shortened lifespan). This creates the perception that people with mental illness are flawed and dangerous, resulting in unfair judgement or embarrassment, causing the individual to pull away from people they care about, which worsens mental health.
How to spot the signs
Symptoms of male mental health disorders include:
- Changes in energy level or mood, including irritability, anger, or aggressiveness
- Changes in work performance
- Weight fluctuations, or changes in appetite
- Sadness, hopelessness, or not enjoying things that used to be pleasurable
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Difficulty concentrating
- Alcohol or drug use, or other high-risk activities
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach issues that don’t have a clear cause.
How to support men’s mental health In the workplace:
- Encourage men to talk about mental health in a non-judgemental setting, encourage ongoing self-care and set a healthy example
- Use gender-responsive language (use language that resonates. For example, men respond to self-help programmes, coaching, skill building rather than ‘therapy’
- Provide mental health benefits (confidentiality in men)
- Build a culture of mental wellness at work (company culture, a psychologically safe work environment, education and training of managers)
- Understand different needs (race-related stressors or personalised support eg LGBTQIA+ community, culturally responsive care).
- Learn about mental health (education and support)
- Talk about it (this fosters empathy and combats isolation)
- Schedule an appointment (for a loved one)
- Get support for yourself (caregivers/ support group, which models that it is OK to get support).
Mental illness is common, is medical, and should be managed appropriately. Mental illness in men is very prevalent and should be recognised. It has a significant impact on their functioning in all aspects. Awareness and screening for mental illness in men is very important. Depression and suicide is lethal in men. The appropriate management of mental illness in men should always
be a priority.