June is Men’s Mental Health Month

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) – Men die by suicide about four times more often than women, according to Mental Health America.

June is recognized as Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month to address specific challenges and barriers men face.

“It has to do with men just culturally being kind of taught and brought up to hold things in. You know, the expression ‘man up,’” said Chris Mason, Board Member with National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of the Central Shenandoah Valley.

Culturally, there’s a lot of pressure on men to be unwavering and to provide financially for their families. That often creates high levels of stress and anxiety. On top of that, men may have a genetic predisposition to mental health issues, or they may experience trauma from work or military experiences.

Starting conversations about these topics can be very helpful.

“That might look like starting this conversation really early for young men, so making it normalized as young men grow up, that it’s ok to talk about their feelings and that it’s ok to seek that help,” said Katie Dolieslager with the ARROW Project.

Too many men feel pressure to stay quiet about mental health. Dolieslager said many of the men she’s worked with didn’t know where to find help, or they were coping alone.

“A lot of the responses that I’ve personally heard from men have been, ‘I’ve just kind of learned to deal with it,’ and unfortunately often dealing with it is a pretty negative coping mechanism,” Dolieslager said.

As time goes on, there will likely be more space for men to express feelings openly without backlash.

“Hopefully as time goes on and we’re seeing better trends in relationships in particular – it’s a partnership – hopefully we will continue to see these kinds of expectations that are cultural and societal shift,” Mason said.

Mason had a message for men considering seeking treatment. “We need to develop a sense of vulnerability and transparency about what we feel. We need to be able to speak that and not to feel like that we’re less than.”

If you’re considering seeking mental health treatment, reach out to resources in the area: The ARROW Project, NAMI of the Central Shenandoah Valley, Mental Health America of Augusta, Valley Community Services Board, along with systems like Augusta Health and Sentara.

If you or someone you know is in need of immediate help, call 911.

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