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Editorial: US Men & Mental Health: The REAL Solution.

The Movember Foundation, a foundation started in 2014 to promote men’s health, is continuing with their annual fundraiser this month of #NoShaveMovember.  Men worldwide are encouraged to grow their moustache to draw attention to men’s health issues.  Movember ambassadors Dr Mehmet Oz  and Dr. Stephen Snyder of Mount Sinai Hospital came out with a special video on NBC’s Today show where they seek to tell men everywhere that it is okay to seek help.

According to the American Society for Suicide Prevention, in the United States, white males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2014 and men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women.

“Men are so focused on the ideal of masculinity and how they have to appear to be.  We forget to cry.  We forget to be emotional.  We forget to show pain.

At 17 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder—a severe form.  In battling this disease, people forgot that I was a human being…Let’s change the conversation.  Let’s make it a point for humankind to recognize that the brain is an organ just like every other part of the body and sometimes needs help.”

-Kevin Hines, author of the harrowing auto-biography Cracked Not Broken, Surviving & Thriving After a Suicide Attempt.

“Men don’t ask for directions when they are lost either.  There’s this male quality of not wanting to get help, go it alone, be brave.  It is a noble male quality but sometimes it could get in the way. “

– Dr Stephen Snyder, Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital

“If you really want to “man up”—if you really want to protect your family—the most important thing a man needs to do, iconically, is to be there for the people in his life. And it is profoundly important to get men to understand that if they are not healthy, they can’t walk their daughter down the aisle.  They won’t be there for the rest of their family.

-Dr Mehmet Oz, host of the Dr Oz Show

Dr Stephen Snyder mentions that it is a “noble quality” men to be brave.  This is a virtue that men worldwide strive to exhibit with every fiber of their being.  The idea of men showing emotional vulnerability can easily lead to a societal perception of weakness that the Movember Foundation is trying change.  I wonder if that is truly possible as male emotional stoicism plays such a crucial role in human relationships.

Men strive to be protectors and do not seek to burden those that are close to them.  For this reason, men often do not reveal aspects of their lives to their significant other nor do they tend to relate personal struggles and challenges.  Male mental health is in real disarray, as accurately decried by the Foundation’s latest video, but it seems the only way to improve conditions is for other men to offer a hand of help.

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