June is Men’s Health Awareness Month (And That Includes Mental Health)

Support group for men

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, a time to remind men of the health issues they face and what they can do to improve their quality of life. Men are less likely than women to seek health care when they need it or share symptoms with their doctor. And it’s not just physical problems that men experience but mental ones as well. Over one in five adults experience a mental health problem each year, and over six million of them are men. But just as men are less likely to go to the doctor than women, they are also less likely to seek help for mental health problems. 

Let’s learn more about the most common mental health disorders that men experience, the factors that often keep them from seeking help and the best treatment strategies. 

Mental Health Problems That Affect Men

Research has shown that physicians often fail to treat men’s mental health issues effectively. Consider that men in the U.S. die by suicide at a rate four times higher than women, yet they are diagnosed with depression and mood disorders at far lower rates. Why? There are a number of factors at play, but a lot has to do with the ways that society treats men. They still carry the “strong male” stereotype that is prevalent in our society and they believe that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. 

However, men have a lot of pressure on them, especially when it comes to work, finances and health concerns. If they don’t seek help for their mental health, they are automatically at a higher risk for substance use. Compared to women, men are more likely to engage in illicit drug use and begin using drugs or alcohol at an earlier age. The most common mental health disorders that affect men are: 


Over six million men experience depression each year. Male depression often goes undiagnosed because their symptoms look different from women. Rather than feeling sad or worthless, men tend to experience fatigue, irritability and loss of interest in work or hobbies. 


Anxiety can manifest in different ways for different people. However, the core symptoms tend to be consistent regardless of gender and include worry, dread, fear, stress, low self-esteem and mood swings. Men are most likely to experience generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Bipolar disorder 

An equal number of men and women develop bipolar disorder. The average onset of this disorder is between 16 and 25 years old. This condition can be especially difficult to diagnose in men because it deals with extreme highs and lows, and men are less likely to show emotion. 

Eating disorders 

Eating disorders have long been associated with women, but they are increasingly common in men as well. About 10 percent of people with anorexia or bulimia are men. An estimated 35 percent of people with binge-eating disorder are men. However, men are less likely to seek support.

Psychosis and Schizophrenia 

Roughly 3.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with schizophrenia each year. Women tend to develop the condition in their 20s and 30s while men are diagnosed in their late teens and early 20s. In fact, 90 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia before age 30 are men. 

Man speaking to a therapist about his mental health

Why Men Don’t Seek Help

There are a number of reasons why men might not get help when they need it: 

  • Fear of showing vulnerability
  • Toxic masculinity (cultural pressures for men to behave a certain way: toughness, femininity, power)
  • Reluctance to talk or share feelings 
  • Downplaying symptoms 
  • Different symptoms than women
  • Misperceptions of what therapy entails 

Substance Use: A Sign of Mental Illness 

Believe it or not, one of the classic symptoms of a mental health problem in men is substance use. Other symptoms include anger, irritability, body aches and pains, trouble focusing and trouble sleeping. Because these symptoms can be different from what women experience, some men may not even realize that anything is wrong. 

However, when a man is misusing drugs or alcohol, it’s very possible that he may be self-medicating to cope with the symptoms of mental illness. For instance, a man who is feeling anxious may smoke marijuana to ease his symptoms, not realizing that he is actually experiencing an anxiety disorder. Or, a man who is feeling depressed because he’s unhappy with his job may drink to numb his emotions. 

How to Help a Man Who May be Struggling 

While there are barriers for men to overcome when accessing treatment, it’s important to know that support is available. Men typically respond well to medication, therapy and lifestyle changes, though it’s important to recognize that a mental health problem may be the root cause of substance misuse. Scheduling an appointment with a doctor can get the ball rolling. 

Aside from medications and psychotherapy, here are some effective treatment strategies for men experiencing mental health problems: 

  • Using relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness or deep breathing 
  • Getting enough quality sleep
  • Eating a balanced diet 
  • Exercising regularly 
  • Finding purpose in life 
  • Spending time with family and friends 

It’s important to know that if a man has a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder, they will likely require dual diagnosis treatment. This treatment addresses both disorders at once so that a full recovery is possible. 

Outpatient Treatment Services in Easton, PA

Recovery Cove offers treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. With our convenient outpatient programs, we’re able to accommodate people who are working or attending school. We also have a Professionals Program that is dedicated to treating working professionals who are experiencing mental health and substance use problems, including pilots, lawyers, healthcare providers and other licensed professionals. To learn more about our programs and how they can support your needs, contact Recovery Cove at 484-549-COVE.