November is the month for focusing on men’s health, for men and anyone who has a man they care about in their life. Movember isn’t just about growing a goofy mustache. From physical check-ins to behavioral healthcare, take the time to elevate men’s health issues with yourself or the men around you. Whether you walk 60 miles in the month for the 60 men lost to suicide each hour around the world, or you make an appointment for a physical with your provider, take steps for health during Movember.
One of the most pressing and often overlooked issues for men is behavioral health. Men frequently face behavioral health issues like substance abuse, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety, but are less likely to seek help than women. In Montana, it’s time for that to change.
Over 10% of men in Montana self-report that their mental health was not good in 14 of the last 30 days. That means that nearly 60,000 men in Montana struggle with mental balance, and this is probably vastly under-reported. Males in Montana battling with behavioral health problems have a hard time of it, with factors like geography, culture and the prevalence of guns playing into the scenario. And low Vitamin D, high altitude and socioeconomics might play a role as well, contributing to one of the highest suicide rates in the country.
Men are most likely to struggle with conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD and substance abuse. In the United States, we have an average life expectancy of 78.6 years. But people with serious mental illness are looking at an age range of just 49 to 60 years. Males are four times more likely than females to complete suicide, making depression a potentially deadly illness worth fighting back against.
In most cases, males are just as likely to suffer from behavioral health issues as women, but they’re often not reported or treated. Men are subject to many societal expectations, ones that encourage them to be self-sufficient and avoid asking for help, even when they really need it. Men are also expected to be dominant, strong and in control of their emotions, which can cause them to feel embarrassed when they struggle with mental health. The pressures and stereotypes that men face are very real and difficult to surpass. And, unfortunately, men are also more likely to cope with these issues in ways that are negative for their health. While talking to a loved one or a therapist might be the best approach, men are more likely to turn to alcohol, drugs or even suicide as a solution. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s time to break the stigma around men being open and talking about their mental health. Reaching out to loved ones or a medical professional when you’re struggling mentally is an important part of taking care of yourself and those around you.
Talking doesn’t show weakness: it shows the strength to push through and be well. For yourself, for your friends, for your family, you can find your way to a healthy self from the inside out. And talking through a problem is scientifically proven to help heal emotional pain.
If you or someone you love is thinking about hurting or killing themselves, get help now. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Montana also has local resources available by calling the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) or texting “MT” to 741741.
You can also look to Man Therapy as a resource. It’s a campaign to bring mental health services and awareness to working-aged men. This multi-agency effort brings together Grit Digital Health, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Cactus. Their free, anonymous and scientifically-validated Head Inspection, a 20-point look under the hood of your head health, gives a rundown on where you’re going strong and what areas of mental health to beef up.
When you’re ready to seek help, behavioral health specialists at Community Health Partners are ready to help for the long haul, with appointments available in your neighborhood in Bozeman, Belgrade, Livingston and West Yellowstone. Get in touch with your nearest clinic to find someone to talk to, find access to resources and get the help you’re looking for. Reach out today to find support.