June is National Men’s Health Month and We’re Breaking Down Stigma

men in a line arm in arm smiling

June is nationally recognized as Men’s Health Month, a time to encourage men to embrace taking care of their physical, mental, and emotional well-being, while pushing back against societal pressures and negative stigmas that often prevent men from having regular checkups with their physicians. Men are also less likely to report symptoms of various disorders, such as anxiety or depression, or seek mental health care due to stigma. Our goal is to educate and change this narrative by breaking down stigma and creating a space for men to receive life-changing care. Read on to learn more about how stigma affects men’s mental health and, in turn, their overall health.

Mental Health Is an Important Part of Overall Health

While this month’s theme aims to encourage men to schedule a physical exam, it’s also important to encourage men to examine their mental health. After all, one can only be as healthy as one’s mind, and may be unable to perform to the best of his abilities in school, work, in his relationships, or in his dreams, aspirations, and goals if he is struggling with a mental health challenge. More, dealing with mental health challenges on one’s own, without proper professional support, often results in coping mechanisms that are not sustainable and can lead to further health complications. That’s why mental health care exists, to get men back into shape mentally and physically and to provide resources to tackle whatever may come their way in life with full confidence.  

It’s no secret that a person’s mental health can determine their overall health. Our bodies are wired to be interconnected systems, so internal emotional responses can trigger physical responses, like how a stressful situation can trigger a fight or flight response in the nervous system.

For example, it’s not uncommon for someone to experience physical symptoms such as insomnia, stomachaches, headaches, pains, or worsening medical conditions, due to their mental or emotional state. Symptoms that disguise themself as physical pains may be the body signaling for help with underlying emotional distress. These pains may initially be a result of overworking or prolonged stress. However, high levels of prolonged stress can lead to anxiety and/or depression and, if left untreated, these mental health challenges can lead to a myriad of other serious physical health issues.

For those battling anxiety or depression, their brain is sending strong signals more irregularly to the body’s nervous system; this ongoing effect can lead to life-threatening issues. Harvard Health found that “people who have Generalized Anxiety Disorder suffer higher rates of heart attack and other cardiac events. The effect is more pronounced in people who already have a diagnosis of heart disease, and the risk rises with the intensity and frequency of anxiety symptoms.” Harvard Health also reports those with anxiety to be more at risk for high blood pressure, heart rhythm disturbances, blood clots, or, a heart attack.

If you have anxiety, depression, or existing heart conditions, it’s imperative to schedule a check-up with your physician and be open and honest about any nervousness you have been experiencing, it could save your life.

Men’s Health Risks and Statistics

Those struggling with mental health who do not seek professional support are more likely to turn to other means of coping that may cause damage to their overall health. Studies have found that men are more likely to turn to substance use in place of proper treatment when experiencing mental health difficulties in order to self-medicate and feel a sense of calm. Research also found that men are less likely to speak up about mental health difficulties or seek professional support for mental health, compared to women (National Library of Medicine).

The tendency to use substances to self-medicate for mental health challenges often further complicates the condition; instead of solving the issue at hand, it creates a cycle of addiction. In turn, individuals are risking their physical health and developing unsustainable coping skills that can put a strain on relationships in their work, school, and personal lives.  

Here are more enlightening statistics about men and mental health:

  • 31% of men suffer from depression in their lifetime and 9% of men have daily feelings of depression or anxiety. But only 1/4 talk to a mental health professional, and only 1/3 take medication. -Indiana School of Medicine
  • Depression and suicide are ranked as a leading cause of death among men. Six million men are affected by depression in the United States every single year. – National Library of Medicine
  • In 2022, men died by suicide nearly 4 times more often than women. -American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Middle-aged people, especially men, have the highest rate of suicide compared to other groups. Men aged 75 and older have the highest rate of any group in the country. -SAMHSA

Stigma Is Stifling the Cry for Help

Whether conscious or unconscious, there is a bias present in our communities and in our own minds about mental health, mental health care, and therapy. Usually, this bias is a negative stigma, which is shaped by social, societal, cultural, and personal beliefs. For example, a person who seeks treatment for depression may be seen as weak, when the truth outside the stigma is that it takes a lot of strength, humility, vulnerability, and courage to seek help for such an intricate, often private issue.

Yet, this more positive view of someone seeking help for themselves is not our usual immediate reaction. Societal pressures combined with our own expectations of self prevail in forming our views and contribute to the stigma that keeps individuals who are suffering from their mental health, silent. Often, those experiencing mental health difficulties blame themselves and feel shame. Shame keeps them from speaking up about their struggles and prevents them from seeking help.

This phenomenon can happen across the board, but for men, who are pressured by society and stigma to be resilient and tough, it’s especially nuanced.

How to Combat Negative Mental Health Stigma in Communities

The social norms we all contribute to creating often define what’s acceptable in our society and in our own perceptions. The best way to combat stigma is to make a collective effort to promote advocating for one’s own health, that is, physical health and mental health.

For men’s sake, efforts need to be put forth to make men’s mental health concerns an open, public, and acceptable conversation. Many communities see mental health topics as taboo or promote the notion that struggling with one’s mental health is something to be embarrassed about or dealt with on one’s own. This is the narrative we all need to seek to change. If instead of shame we replaced our ideas about mental health with being a brave and bold thing, more people could come forth and receive life-changing care.

Often times when men are asked by other men how they are doing or how things have been going for them, societal pressures of maintaining a masculine standard lead them to avoid talking about things that upset them or any emotions that have been feeling, due to fear of being called “weak.” For men specifically, we should adopt and promote the idea that it’s masculine and responsible to be open and honest about how you’re really doing. Masculine expression can be just that, men expressing themselves fully.

Here are three simple ways we can all work towards destigmatizing mental health:

-Speak up

If you are experiencing mental health symptoms, speak up about your struggles, and lean on your immediate support system. Seek professional support. The sooner you seek mental health treatment, the more success you will find in your recovery.


If you are not experiencing mental health symptoms yourself, be an advocate. Check in with your loved ones and emphasize the importance of getting professional help when needed.

-Normalize all of the above

We can all work toward normalizing caring for our own mental health. By talking about it and embracing mental health care practices for ourselves, our impact may be destigmatizing mental health and allowing space for others to come forward to receive care. We can, in turn, make it more comfortable for everyone to express themselves.

If You’re Not Feeling Your Best, SunCloud Health Can Help

Reaching out for help is a difficult thing, but it’s the only way to get yourself on a better path. The experts at SunCloud Health are here to help you find relief for your mental health struggles, initiate healing, and empower you to overcome your struggles. Our multi-disciplinary staff are leaders in the treatment of mental health disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders, and we can identify your needs and be sure they are met.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or have had emotions that are difficult to handle or express, you are not alone.

Reach out today for support.

Call (844) 576-0279 or contact us online: https://suncloudhealth.com/contact-us