Have you grown up watching Amitabh Bachhan’s movies and sworn by the dialogue ‘mard ko dard nahi hota’ throughout your life? Then we have a spoiler for you, mard ko dard hota hai! No, we don’t mean to say that Amitabh Bachhan’s movies’ spread rumors, all we want to say is that mental illness in men is a reality and not an escape route from responsibilities, as society suggests.
Every gender is likely to develop mental health issues but male mental health is a topic still hushed upon in the society and signs of mental illness in men often go unnoticed.
The persisting stigma around men’s mental health is a major reason why men are less likely to reach out for help and often suffer in silence. The stories we hear, the movies we see, and the society we live in, has often portrayed men in a position of authority. It portrays a man as someone who earns for the entire family, feeds them, takes their social and financial responsibility and resolves all the family issues without being swayed by them.
Young boys are always interrupted from expressing their emotions and are told not to behave like a girl when they cry. As if men do not develop tear ducts!
All of this has led the men in our society to believe that they always have to be strong and not to be swayed by the problems that approach them, and terms them as ‘weak’ if they do so. This leads them to develop an attitude which often prevents them from reaching out for help as that can be considered ‘weak’ , which in the long run can lead to the development of the signs of mental illness in men.
What are the warning signs?
Do you think your husband, brother, son or any other eminent male figure in your life might be going through a tough phase and is developing mental health issues but are afraid of reaching out, here’s how you can understand the symptoms and take effective measures.
Here are some common symptoms of mental illness in men that you might notice-
1. Anger, irritability or aggressiveness-
These are the most common symptoms you will notice in a man if his mental health is going haywire. They can experience sudden outbursts of anger or irritability and might display aggressive behaviour in their daily life since their emotions might not be finding a way out.
If you are noticing these, reach out to them and try to talk to them on the matter because small symptoms can change into bigger issues if not worked upon.
2. Increased worry or feeling of stress-
If a man is feeling constantly stressed or feeling worried over the smallest of issues, these can be warning signs. These feelings might be a prelude to some deeper issues that might be persisting and it would be wise to reach out to them if they are hesitant in reaching out to you.
3. Suicidal thoughts-
If an eminent male personality in your life is having suicidal thoughts, or you have caught them talking about suicide, be it jokingly, take it as a warning sign and do the needful.
It would be wise to seek the help of a professional if things get serious.
4. Engaging in high risk activities-
Engaging in high-risk activities might seem as a habit dear to some men, but when the activities turn life-threatening, do not take them lightly and take an action as soon as possible.
Make them realise that they have someone they can lean on to.
5. Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior-
If a man is showing compulsive behaviour or obsessively thinking over some topic, it is a warning sign. In some cases, it leads to them indulging in substance abuse or alcoholism as an escape route from the issues that are bothering them.
If either or all the above-mentioned criteria match the ones you or your loved one is displaying, it is never too late to reach out. Remember, it is better late than never! It has been observed that men might often choose ways that provide them with an escape route from the problem instead of choosing to address it. In such situations, it is advisable to look out for them until society talks openly talks about it.
Male mental health is still considered a taboo topic in the society around us, and stigma around men’s mental health still persists, making it even harder for the ones who are suffering from it. It is high time for this topic to be discussed openly and considered as a ‘real-problem’ instead of an escape-route.
Just like our limbs, the brain is very much a part of our body, and men- a part of our society. We need to let our men know that they are not alone, that they are cared for, and that it is completely alright for them to open up about their problems and put their tear ducts to some good use! We are here to help, not to judge.
So, next time if you or your closed-one feel troubled over a topic, be it big or small, know that it is completely okay for you or them to reach out, that there is a solution for it, and that it is not the end of the world. Reach out to a family member, or someone you trust, or take help from a professional if needed. National helpline numbers work round the clock to listen to us and help us. Remember, mard ko dard hota hai! The aim is to destigmatize mental illness in men and address it as a real issue.
To all the men reading this, remember it is human to cry, it is human to seek help, it is human to feel pressurised and it is okay to not be strong always and that it is not a personal failure! You are not alone, we are standing beside you, you can fall back without being afraid of not being held. Because, if we now fail to address mental illness issues in men and do not take male mental health seriously, we might be risking losing the better half of our society.