How Stigma Impacts Men and their Mental Health

Oct 20, 2023

Men are less likely to seek help for depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events due to social norms, reluctance to talk, and downplaying their symptoms.


men suffer from depression per year, but male depression often goes underdiagnosed

Men account for about


of patients with bulimia or anorexia. Men with an eating disorder are less likely to seek professional help,

More than

men in the US have panic disorder, agoraphobia, or any other phobia.

To address the greater stigma for men acknowledging mental health issues and getting treatment, The Suicide Prevention Coalition of WNY launched a public service campaign “Men Get Help.” in 2020. The campaign was funded by an NYS Anti-Stigma Grant 2018-19 based on the fact that Men in the Middle Years (30-59 years of age) accounted for 78% of the deaths by suicide in 2017 in Erie County.

Research shows that men tend to get less physical health treatment and use more lethal methods with less chance of rescue (mostly a firearm).

The campaign featured four men who shared their mental health journeys and highlighted the stigma experienced by men.

The Anti-Stigma Coalition hosted a Facebook Live on October 19 with the topic The State of Stigma: Men, Suicide Prevention, and Mental Health Stigma.

The discussion focused on why it’s important for men to talk about mental health, what stigma men experience, and how attitudes have changed or improved.

Panelists included Jeffrey Hoffman, founder, Visible Man and Paul Cartone, Psychotherapist, Holistic Spiritual Healer, Life Coach, Author. Matt Smith, Executive Director, Preventionfocus, Inc. was the moderator.

“Men tend to have fewer social supports, are culturally discouraged from seeking help, and tend not to be adept in dialogue around emotional wellness,” Hoffman said.  “These and other factors make the stigma around mental health particularly challenging for men—contributing to the disproportionately high suicide rate among men compared to women (4 times higher).”

According to Hoffman, culture around masculinity (even among other men) encourages strength, autonomy, and competition rather than help-seeking vulnerability. And while vulnerability can be a pathway towards connection, it is particularly difficult for men to seek help.

Family and friends can be instrumental in encouraging men to talk about their mental health challenges.

“Holding space privately for a guy to open up and investing energy to reassure him that his experience is valid, is something family and friends can do to support men in their mental health journey,” he said. “To gently point out that you notice the good things he does for his health validates that his efforts are seen and noticed, as well as privately reassuring him that you notice he seems ‘off,’ but that his experience and feelings are valid—without offering a solution, unless it’s asked for.” 

He suggested one easy way to do this is to send a text with your observations, and not requiring a response; or to invite him out for coffee to share his feelings and check in.

Although men in the middle years (MIMY)—that is, men 35–64 years of age—represent 19 percent of the population of the United States, they account for 40 percent of the suicides in this country. The number of men in this age group and their relative representation in the U.S. population are both increasing. If the suicide rate among men ages 35–64 is not reduced, both the number of men in the middle years who die by suicide and their contribution to the overall suicide rate in the United States will continue to increase.

Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

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