What is mental illness?
Mental illnesses are disturbances in thoughts, feelings, and how you see the world.
Signs and symptoms of mental illness
Just like physical illnesses, mental illnesses can take a wide variety of forms and affect different guys in different ways. While symptoms vary depending on the illness, some of the more common ones include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Drastic mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy, or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Noticeable changes in eating habits
- Sex drive changes
- Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
- Suicidal thinking
- Physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains
What causes mental illness?
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- A family history of mental health problems
The state of men’s mental health and mental illness in Canada
We’re not going to sugarcoat things. From governments and researchers to doctors and guys themselves, men’s mental health facts clearly show that we all need to do more to improve men’s mental health in Canada. After all:
- Among Canadians of all ages, four of every five suicides are male, with more than 50 Canadian men dying by suicide each week.
- Approximately one million men suffer from major depression in Canada each year.
- Many guys are hesitant to get help because they feel like they need to be seen as strong and can “tough it out.” This common misconception can lead to a denial of depression in men. The fact is, we need to raise awareness around mental illness in men and help reduce the stigma attached to it.
Men tend to not use available mental health services, with stats indicating that only around 30% of people who use mental health services are men.
For most of us, mental illness isn’t something we want to admit about ourselves readily. According to a recent study, men are less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties compared to women. Poor identification of depression and do-nothing or leave-them-alone attitude towards seeking help are associated with being male. The Canadian Mental Health Association says that men’s mental health is called a silent crisis because many men simply don’t believe they are susceptible to depression.
How to get help
Talk to a doctor if you think you or someone you know shows symptoms of mental illness. If necessary, he or she can refer you to a specialist resource such as a psychiatrist, a mental health clinic at a hospital or a community health centre. The treatment will depend on the specifics of the mental illness.
We are lucky to have several mental health support services in Canada, so there is no need to “man up” and suffer alone. Being in a good headspace is the manliest thing you can do! Remember, some good people are qualified to help you and will never judge you.