Men are still captive to a false masculinity. They have psychological problems, but they rarely ask women for help
Overwork, pressure, stress. Many men in Germany have psychological problems but ignore them and do not seek help, according to experts and on the occasion of today’s International Men’s Day. “For many, mental illness is incompatible with the classical ideal of masculinity”, says Anna-Maria Meller-Laimkühler, from the Board of Directors of the Men’s Health Foundation. Traditional standards of masculinity, i.e. “be strong and successful, solve problems yourself, persevere and not show your emotions”, is more pronounced in older men than in younger men. This attitude can be very self-destructive, observes the professor of Social Psychiatry at the University of Munich. “They suppress and downplay their psychological problems.” Depression in particular is often seen as an expression of personal weakness and failure.
“So many men show more aggression and anger, consume more alcohol, withdraw socially, throw it at work, overdo it with sports, exhibit risky behavior and resort to the virtual world,” he says. However, mental illnesses in men are far from rare.
Mental illnesses are common
One in four adults in Germany experiences some form of mental illness each year. About one in three women and one in four to five men, according to Anette Kersting from the Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine at the University Hospital Leipzig. “Men abuse substances, alcohol and drugs more often,” he adds. Conversely, twice as many women suffer from depression compared to men. However, depression in men can sometimes be overlooked or undiagnosed. Undiagnosed depression can have serious consequences at work but also loneliness, anxiety disorders, diabetes, stroke. Depression is generally associated with an increased mortality rate. The suicide rate for men is at least three times higher than for women.
In general, mental disorders occur regardless of one’s occupation, according to experts. However, mental disorders occur more frequently than in the general population, the armed forces, emergency services and the police. That is, where traditional standards of masculinity prevail.
There is also positive news
Another element is that women make better use of and more often turn to mental health facilities or psychologists compared to men. The lack of positions is also problematic, emphasizes psychologist Sebastian Jacobi, a business consultant on health and safety at work.
Finally, however, there is positive news regarding mental illness. One of them is that there is no longer a stigma against people seeking help in this area. Even more attention is paid to psychological factors, diagnosis has improved and there is also a significant increase in the awareness of doctors.
At the same time, there are also digital applications. It is of course not the ideal solution but it is better than nothing, as Sebastian Jacobi says. However, personal contact in this area is rather irreplaceable.
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