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The Silent Killer

November 10, 2022
Kudzai Mhondiwa

The Rise in Men’s Mental Illnesses

By Kudzai Mhondiwa

Men feel pressured not to express concerns about their mental health, leading them to suffer devastating physical and mental consequences. 

Mental health crises are on the rise, with studies uncovering the hardships of mental health among men. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention stated, “In 2020 men died by suicide 3.88 times more than women,” and reported 45,979 deaths during the same year. [1] Prior to the harsh effects of these fatalities, a great number of men keep their burdens to themselves, holding their anguish from other people.  

Tanner Buller, who is premed, added, “When vulnerable, we push away,” and later noted, “I just don’t want to be a burden on somebody, coming off needy.” [2] 

Buller noted his rejection of his support network which led to his crisis response of seeming needy to others. The bleakness of such a reality for many other men reflects Priory Group’s findings that “40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health.” [3] 

The attributes that play a role in the rise of mental illness uncovered by mentalhelp.net included “work stress and a lack of social support,” and the study further noted, “one in seven men lose their jobs become depressed.” [4] Another example added, “Men may be more likely to use drugs or alcohol as a means of coping.” [5] Half of the human population finds themselves in a viscous cycle of internalizing chaos without taking preventative measures.  

Buller noted that he felt “invisible to his family.” His self-destructive thoughts only got worse, but he changed this by taking that “first step in finding that support.” [6] Buller, facing the weight of a mental battle, took it upon himself to at least make the first move in reaching out to a counselor for help and allowing his voice to be heard by those around him. As a result, Buller positively revamped the trajectory of his mental health.  

The stigma that surrounds men’s mental health in our society has a deafening effect with silent cries of help met with trauma, drug abuse, and, in many cases, death. This stigma is so profound that it downplays the extreme effects of poor mental health and the outcomes of mental illness. Addictioncenter.com describes the social stigma, stating, “Those who have depression are weak,” and contrasts this to self-stigma, writing, “An individual experiencing self-stigma will internalize the negative views and opinions of mental illnesses, which leads to judgment and shame about one’s symptoms.” [7] 

Walla Walla University offers free counseling services at the health and wellness center, available Monday through Thursday, 12-1 p.m. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues or suicidal thoughts, please contact the Walla Walla Crises Response Unit at (509) 524-2999 or email counselling@wallawalla.edu to get set up with a member of the counseling team. Let your voice be heard.  

Society has a role to play in shedding light on men’s mental health that either decays like a foul mold in the dark or blooms to the sound of each voice that is finally heard.  

 

References  

  1. Suicide statistics. (2022, October 14). American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/ 
  2. Interview with Tanner Buller, 11/1/22. 
  3. Group, P. (n.d.). 40% of men won't talk to anyone about their mental health. Priory. https://bit.ly/3NKklXD   
  4. Men's health. (n.d.). Mental Help. https://bit.ly/3zVeSHV  
  5. Ibid. 
  6. Interview with Tanner Buller, 11/1/22. 
  7. McCrackin, C. (2022, October 31). Men and mental health stigma. Addiction Center. https://www.addictioncenter.com/community/men-mental-health-stigma/ 
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