There is a growing silent crisis in psychology circles regarding mental health issues leading to suicide and substance abuse predominantly in men. Research is showing that men are roughly three times more likely than women to develop destructive addictions sometimes referred to as ‘slow-motion suicide,’ given that it can often end in a premature death for the person concerned.
Research also indicates that the increase in stressful life situations such as divorce and court appointed separation from children is creating an isolation that is increasingly being self-remedied. Men too often choose to suffer in ‘soul destroying’ isolation and silence separated from mainstream society. Too often this is tied to stereotypical notions of masculinity such as stubbornness or toughness. As such, substance abuse may be a maladaptive response to a perceived untenable situation. Furthermore, male gender often intersects with other variables to produce even higher rates in some sub-groups such as minority men from traditionally patriarchal and masculine cultures.
One of the problematic issues in addressing the problems is in rooted in formal mental health services that are not finely attuned to men’s needs, especially minority men. These services tend to emphasise medication or talk-therapy and often these methods prove ineffective with men who tend to prefer action over words in the face of stressful life situations.
Men’s mental health should be recognised as a social issue as much as a health issue, with attention paid to issues such as unemployment and familial disruption. There should be more choice in the formal mental health system, with more male-tailored options that respond to men’s unique needs. Finally, health departments at the various levels of government should create specific strategies to improve men’s mental health, with the setting of targets and goals based on recent research.
In terms of substance abuse it is essentially a form of mental health deficiency. The key to remedy this growing epidemic in men is for therapists and addiction recovery centres to firstly accurately diagnose whether an individual has the dual problem of mental health issues coupled with the substance abuse and secondly provide the proper opportunities to address recovery in terms that suits the individuals. One such avenue that is gaining traction is practical interventions such as ‘men’s sheds.’ These are physical spaces where isolated and lonely men can gather together for practical activities such as woodwork and repairs, while receiving valuable peer-support in the process.
As in all addiction, if you or someone you care for is suffering with some of this issues outlined in this article, the initial identification of the problems is an invaluable first step to recovery. Know that help is available. At Ibiza Calm, we have an expert team of professionals available at all times for any number of addictions you or a loved one may be suffering with, so please do not hesitate to call us if you need any help or advice.
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