June Men's Health Month: Highlighting Mental Health for Men
June is Men's Health Month - a time to think about the health and wellness of our men and boys. This year, the focus is on men’s mental health.
When it comes to addressing mental health concerns, men are often forgotten. Men are less likely than women to seek help for issues such as depression and anxiety, which can have serious consequences.
Let’s talk about the mental issues commonly experienced by men of all ages and why these should not be ignored.
We’ll also discuss some simple steps men can take to improve their mental health and wellbeing. These are men’s health issues that should be addressed regularly, not just during men's mental health month.
Why men’s mental health matters
Men are affected by mental health issues just as easily as women. However, societal and cultural factors mean that men often shy away from discussing such problems.
Traditionally, men are encouraged to be strong, independent, and resilient. Mainstream media has reinforced this by creating a stereotype of the “macho” man.
Vulnerability or emotional expression is not part of this male stereotype, nor is asking for help. This societal pressure can create a sense of shame or weakness around seeking help for mental health issues.
Until recently, there have been few opportunities for men to open up about their feelings. Men may fear being judged or labeled as "unmanly" if they admit to struggling emotionally.
Additionally, there is a lack of representation and discussion around men's mental health in public discourse, further reinforcing the notion that it is not a valid or important topic.
For this reason, men may also face internal barriers to asking for help. Many may believe they should be able to handle their problems on their own, and are reluctant to admit vulnerability.
The combination of these factors often leads to men suffering in silence, avoiding seeking support and struggling with their mental health alone. This reluctance to speak up means that men are also less likely to be diagnosed, and therefore less likely to get help.
Men with depression may also experience barriers in accessing mental health care.
Those who do undergo treatment are likely to experience suboptimal outcomes, evidenced by fragmented pathways in and out of care, and end up falling through cracks in the system. 
Recognizing men's mental health challenges helps break down the societal stigma surrounding masculinity and mental well-being. By promoting open discussions and offering support, we create an environment where men feel comfortable seeking help without fear of judgment or weakness.
Common mental health challenges for men
Traditional masculine norms are shown to have a threefold effect on men experiencing depression, affecting: 
1. Men’s symptoms and expression of their symptoms
2. Attitudes towards mental health symptoms and the steps taken to seek help
3. Symptom management
According to Mental Health America, over six million men suffer from depression each year. However, depression in males is often underdiagnosed.
It is also estimated that more than 3 million men in the US have some form of phobia or panic disorder. Around 10% of those diagnosed with an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia are also male, but are less likely to seek help.
Schizophrenia is one of the leading causes of disability in the US, affecting around 3.5 million people. Around 90% of those diagnosed by age 30 are men.
Research shows that men are at a higher risk for suicide. Statistics from 2021 show that the suicide rate among males was around four times that of females. Males make up 80% of suicides despite making up only 50% of the population. 
One of the major risk factors for suicide is depression, which is linked to men’s reluctance to seek help for their mental health.  Although women are around twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, men are four times more likely to commit suicide. It is also estimated that one in nine men are diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) in their lifetime. 
Globally, men are reported to have lower rates of anxiety disorders compared to women; however, these statistical differences between the sexes does not reflect the complexity of how men experience anxiety. Some research suggests that anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder experienced by men, and often the first mental health disorder young men experience. However, like other mental health issues, this is often overlooked. 
If left untreated, anxiety can lead to other psychiatric disorders including depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis.
Some of the major triggers of mental health issues in men include work, their finances, and their health.  Of those polled, 40% of men said they would only seek help if they had thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
How we can all boost awareness
The first step in helping men address their mental disorders is to clarify the signs and symptoms.
While men and women are affected by similar mental disorders and conditions, men may experience different symptoms. Some common symptoms include:
• Anger, aggression, or irritability
• Obvious changes in mood
• Changes to energy levels and/or appetite
• Sleeping less or too much
• Difficulty concentrating and/or feeling restless
• Feelings of stress or worry
• Drinking and/or using drugs
• Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or just feeling flat
• Struggling to feel positive or enjoy things
• Engaging in high-risk behavior
• Unexplained pains or gut issues
• Obsessive thoughts or compulsive behavior
• Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts
Improving mental health requires a holistic approach; that is, addressing all areas of one’s daily life. Smoking, limited exercise, and harmful alcohol consumption are shown to adversely affect health and increase the risk of developing mental disorders, including depression.
Men's health tips for improving mental wellbeing:
• Eating a healthy diet
Men’s nutrition is at the center of their mental and physical wellbeing. Epidemiological studies have shown that diet has a major impact on mental health.  One intervention study reported that the Mediterranean diet resulted in significant improvements in mood and reduced anxiety in adults with major depression. The MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet is also significantly associated with a lower chance of depression and psychological distress. Like the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet emphasizes natural plant-based foods and limited intake of animal products and high-fat foods. 
• Supplement where necessary
B vitamins play a crucial role in healthy mood due to their involvement in the production of neurotransmitters. Folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies have been associated with depression, reduced response to antidepressants, greater likelihood of recurrence, and longer depressive episodes.  Supplementing with the active form of folate - known as methylfolate - is the most effective means of providing the body with readily available folate. Methyl-Life® offers a range of methylfolate products designed exactly for this purpose, starting with Methylfolate Brain/Mood Health (5 mg methylfolate) and Methylfolate Raise Mood (10 mg methylfolate). A high-dose formula, Methylfolate Enhance Mood, contains 15 mg methylfolate alongside active B12 and inositol for optimal mood support and neurotransmitter production.
•Get regular exercise
Numerous epidemiological studies have demonstrated that those who are less physically active or more sedentary tend to experience greater risk of poor mental health. On the other hand, those who exercise regularly are shown to report better mental health functioning compared to non-exercisers.  Men’s fitness can be improved through daily physical activity such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or attending the gym.
• Get enough sleep
Trouble sleeping and mental health difficulties are intrinsically linked. Poor sleep contributes to the onset, recurrence, and maintenance of mental health difficulties.  Better sleep has been shown to improve aspects of physical health, including fatigue, chronic pain, and overall quality of life. 
• Avoid alcohol and drugs
Using substances (alcohol and drugs) significantly increases the severity of mental disorders. Substance use is also associated with repeated relapse, poorer treatment outcomes, and generally poorer prognosis for the individual. 
• Spend time with loved ones
Social relationships have a major impact on both mental and physical health. Studies have shown adults who socialize and connect regularly with others are healthier and tend to live longer than those who are isolated. Social support can boost mental health by reducing the impact of stress, or by fostering a sense of meaning and purpose in life. 
Some great ways to spend intentional time with loved ones is to have a regular family dinner at home or dine out together. Go for a walk or a hike, take a shopping trip, or just hang out at the park.
• Do things that you enjoy
Losing interest in former hobbies or previously enjoyed activities is one of the major signs of depression. However, it’s still helpful to focus on doing things to improve how you feel.
Spend a small amount of time each day doing something fun, like watching Netflix or eating your favorite food.
Men's mental health awareness month is a time to reflect on the difficulties men face in dealing with depression or other mental disorders.
Helping men to feel more comfortable about sharing their emotional or mood-related problems is a key first step toward improving men’s wellness. Understanding the factors involved in mental help-seeking for men struggling with depression and other mental health issues is essential for improving detection rates and treatment.
By challenging stereotypes, promoting open discussions, and providing access to resources, we can contribute to a healthier and happier male population.