Indian Men and Mental Health

June is celebrated as Men’s Health Month. While we keep harping on gender equality when it comes to issues with women, the situation is very different with respect to men and mental health.

Men are considered to be the stronger sex; strong both physically and emotionally. So much so that we rarely see a man crying in public as he has to upkeep his macho image. On the other hand, a woman can often be seen letting go of her emotions irrespective of where she is.

But are only women affected by mental health issues? Are men not equally prone to mental illnesses?

As far as my limited knowledge goes, both men and women have mind! And if they have a mind, they surely have mental health. The news is that my belief is true and various researches have come out stating that both men and women are equally affected by mental illnesses. The only difference is that men are less likely to talk about them or seek help!

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Source: Mental Health America

Unfortunately, this amplifies the problem for them and results in an alarming number of related issues like anger, aggression, substance abuse, depression and in extreme cases, even suicides. In some situations, these unidentified and unattended mental health issues present themselves in the form of physical ailments like digestive issues, a racing heart, headaches etc.

Men make up for over 75% of suicide rates in US and as per Mental Health America, suicide is the 7th leading cause of death among American males accounting for 2.2% of all male deaths in 2011.

Situation in UK is no better with CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) claiming that suicide was the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45. In 2015, 75% of all UK suicides were male. Considering Europe overall, an article in Psychology Today states that 43000 European men kill themselves every year. Men are also significantly less likely to utilize mental health services compared to women, with only around 30% of service users being men.

In India the situation is even worse. India is the youth suicide capital of the world, yet people are not comfortable taking about mental health issues. The below chart shows the age specific, gender specific suicide rates in India and clearly the male suicide rates surpass the female suicide rates as the age progresses.

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In half the countries in the world, there’s only one psychiatrist per 100,000 people. In India, there’s one psychiatrist for every 300,000 Indians! The country spends 1% of its GDP on health (the OECD average is 9%), and 0.1% of that on mental health services – one of the lowest figures in the world!

This men’s health month, it is time to take the bull by its horns and focus on your overall wellbeing. There is no shame in accepting that men can be prone to mental health conditions as well. Talking about one’s mental health condition is absolutely ok and seeking help is a step in the right direction.

Majority of workforce in corporates are men and as a responsible as well as a productivity-oriented organization, it is imperative for a corporate to take care of the physical as well as mental health of its workforce.

MeeHappy Wellness is an EAP that helps employees achieve the highest level of emotional, psychological and social well-being; be productive at workplace and lead a happy and fulfilling life.

References: Mental Health America, Psychology Today, National Institute of Mental Health, CALM, Philosophyforlife.org 

Image courtesy: Pixabay