DURNBAN - As November is Men’s Health Month, a psychologist has urged men to pay attention to their mental health and to seek professional help if they are experiencing problems.
According to principal psychologist Sithembiso Biyela from the Department of Employment and Labour, men struggle to openly seek help or to show signs of not coping as this is seen as being weak and not manly.
He said this can be traced back to the adolescent stage where boys are more likely to have problems with anger.
“Men are more likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorders and drug-related substance abuse, which may have underlying conditions such as depression and anxiety. When men have problems they are quick to tell each other to instead go and have a drink or to say ‘man up’ as a form of support,” he said.
Gender stereotyping may lead to under diagnosis of mental health problems in men, he said.
He added that men often seek mental health care at a later stage or delay until symptoms are severe, and this is one of the reasons why there is a high rate of men admitted to psychiatric in-patient care.
Biyela said regarding suicidal behaviour, men use more lethal ways of attempting suicide and they are mostly successful in their attempts compared with women. He said the main problem for men’s mental health was the socialisation and gender stereotypes surrounding men.
“Men are raised to be strong, not to cry and not openly express their emotions. They tend to suppress or block their emotions. Suppressed emotions often lead to violence and other mental health-related issues,” he said.
He said the solution to this was to encourage men to express their emotions.
“The gender roles and stereotypes around men need to be challenged to allow for a smooth transition towards changing how boys and men are socialised,” he said.
He said seeking help early allowed early identification of mental health issues and successful treatment.
“Men are needed as leaders and protectors of families and it's okay for men to be vulnerable. They should realise that problems should not be bottled or washed away with alcohol,” he said.