Men’s mental health problems are referred to by many as a ‘silent epidemic’. Part of the problem lies in the fact that men find it harder to open up about it compared to women

Just days after winning the doubles title with Thanasi Kokkinakis at the 2022 Australian Open, Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios said he had “suicidal thoughts” and had a history of depression, drug and alcohol abuse.

“I know that everyday life can seem extremely exhausting, sometimes impossible. I understand you may feel weak or scared when you open up. I’m telling you now, it’s okay, you’re not alone,” 26-year-old Kyrgios took to his verified Instagram account on February 24 of this year to make this confession. “I can proudly say that I have completely turned myself around and have a completely different view of everything, I don’t take a moment for granted. I want you to be able to reach your full potential and smile. This life is beautiful,” he adds.

Kyrgios may have been praised for speaking candidly and candidly about his mental health, but when it comes to men, not many people are willing to do so, even as the health problem is reaching alarming proportions worldwide, including in India.

According to an internal report published in early 2021 by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, more than 70% of calls to the national mental health helpline, KIRAN (1800-599-0019), since its launch, have been men.

The 24×7 toll-free mental health helpline launched in September 2020 and is now available in 13 Indian languages. It offers psychological support, distress management and psychological crisis management. According to reports, the helpline received 15,170 calls as of January 31 last year.

The silent epidemic
Studies from around the world show that men find it more difficult to be candid about mental health, although they are significantly more, if not less, at risk of suffering than women. Not surprisingly, mental health problems in men are referred to by many as a “silent epidemic.”

“As violence against women and children increases, when more men than women commit suicide, there is a silent violent epidemic of men’s mental health. It is a major health risk because it affects not only men, but everyone around them,” said Deepa Narayan, social science researcher, author and host of podcast What’s a Man? Masculinity in India.

“While it’s hard to measure things like this because it’s vastly underreported given the stigma (and, yes, it’s called a ‘silent’ epidemic for a reason), an indication comes from the American Psychological Association (APA) warning. in 2019 to therapists about “traditional masculinist ideology” as a threat to the mental and physical well-being of men and to those around them.In cultures that encourage such traditional ideologies for men, such as in India, concern for health may be bigger,” said Sonora Jha, an essayist, novelist, and journalism professor at Seattle University, USA.

Jha is the author of the memoir, How to Raise a Feminist Son: Motherhood, Masculinity, and the Making of My Family. The book follows a mother’s journey to raise a feminist son as a…
single parent.

Statistics show that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression compared to men, but men are twice as likely to die by suicide compared to women, says Dr. Shyam Bhat, psychiatrist and president of LiveLoveLaugh Foundation, a charity that aims to bring hope to people experiencing stress, anxiety and depression. LiveLoveLaugh was founded in 2015 by actor Deepika Padukone.

“India has about 230,000 suicides a year, of which 80,000 are deaths by women and 150,000 by men. When men are depressed, they may be out of touch with their sadness, may not be aware that they are sad, and may not even look sad and depressed. On the other hand, they may have behavioral problems, such as becoming angrier, more aggressive, more irritable, more substance-seeking, and, in general, behaviors that are perceived as ‘bad behavior’ rather than depressed,’ explains Bhat.

“As a result of this behavior, the men then become more isolated as their behavior scares away people who are close to them. This results in further isolation, emptiness and a worsening of their depressive symptoms, leading to despair, isolation, hopelessness and suicidality,” he adds.

Narayan adds: “Do superheroes seek help? Not when they have their capes on. We train men with all expectations to be a superhero – always powerful, strong, protector, muscular, always right, knows everything and can do everything, never sad or confused. Asking for help is the opposite of being a superhero. Therefore, the patriarch diminishes the possibilities for men to be fully human and is bad for both men and women and everyone else.”

Incidentally, about 32% of those who contacted the KIRAN Helpline were students, according to reports citing data from the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. “Men refusing to come out and talk about the trauma they’re facing is something I’ve read about and seen personally so many times. Not only is this problem common among men, but it is also common among teens, exacerbating mental health problems across demographics during the pandemic,” said Suyash Dasgupta, a grade 12 student at Singapore American School and author of Chosen. , a novel that attempts to expose the rare issue of men’s mental health.
Chosen tells the story of a bully teenager Mason, his depressed, dejected and abusive father and their broken bond.

Lend a helping hand
The way forward requires internalizing the truth that patriarchal norms diminish and limit men just as they do for women, says Rajat Mittal, founder of, a monthly newsletter that expands the discourse on masculinity in India.

“Boys can and should feel loved and belong outside of the sole role of a caregiver. It’s one of the archetypes, not the only archetype of a fulfilling life for me. Relentless economic and social domination is a failed script, and ironically it hurts the men who take on this dominant role the most,” adds Mittal.

Given the gravity of the situation, some platforms have given men a helping hand in dealing with mental health issues. Man Matters, a digital health platform for men, has come up with a new campaign #LetsTalkMan. The campaign reflects on how men sometimes don’t open up and don’t make themselves vulnerable, which in turn leads to bottled up emotions.

The latest digital film, performed by Spring Marketing Capital, features actress Girija Oak Godbole of Taare Zameen Par and Shor in the City fame, encouraging men to love themselves and talk about their problems.

Commenting on the campaign, Anuroop Nair, director of brand marketing at Mosaic Wellness (parent company of Man Matters): “With this campaign, we are one step closer to the vision of our brand. The idea is to encourage the men to come forward and talk about their challenges without any hesitation or societal pressure. We have seen that society has always viewed and internalized men as tough, physically strong and for some reason not emotionally willing. Men who are candid about their feelings and problems are considered ‘weak’. With this campaign, we want to break through those gender biases while ensuring that the film is worth watching and entertaining more often.”

Male Celebrities and Mental Health
Several well-known personalities have spoken openly and candidly about their mental health

Nick Kyrgios
Australian tennis star

Prince Harry
Philanthropist and member of the British Royal Family

Brad Pitt
Actor & film producer

Michael Phelps
Olympic swimmer

Dwayne Johnson
Actor, producer and former professional wrestler

Zayn Malik
Singer & Songwriter

Trevor Noah
Comedian, political commentator, writer and TV presenter

Wayne Brady
Actor, comedian and TV personality

Oscar De La Hoya
Professional boxer

This post Matters of the Mind and Men

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