Men's Mental Health: Breaking Stigma for Better Wellness Support

Help reduce the stigma around men's mental health by learning more about the symptoms and stressors from an Inkblot practitioner.

Mental health issues affect us all at some point, regardless of gender. However, men often experience particular mental health concerns that may require a slightly different approach to treatment and management, with some men perhaps feeling more reluctant to seek support for mental health challenges due to gender norms in society. 

In fact, according to the Canadian Men's Health Foundation, about one million men experience major depression in the country every year. Despite this, statistics suggest that only about a third of people who lean on mental health services for support are men. Moreover, men make up nearly 75 per cent of the estimated 4,000 people who take their own lives in Canada each year.

Given this, it’s important that we reduce the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and remind the men in our lives that they’re safe to seek support when needed.

Whether you’re seeking support for mental health issues or hoping to support a man in your life who’s struggling, this article featuring expert tips from counsellor Bernie Moen MSW, RSW, will help you better understand men’s mental health. 

The current state of men’s mental health 

Today, our society functions less conducive to a sense of community than in the not-too-distant past. Moen believes this loss of community and communication has caused people, specifically men, to lose an essential emotional outlet to cope with stress, which can often show up as a feeling of powerlessness or as though they've lost a sense of identity and belonging.

"It seems to be pretty prevalent that many men are going through a stage where they don't know who they are," he says. "I think there are lots of reasons for that. Years ago, men used to go to church, attend ball games, hang around with other men, and talk. Whether that was helping them with mental health and emotional well-being or just distracting them from whatever was going on in their life, it seemed to work. Years later, it seems men don't have that as much anymore."

Combined with several other complex factors, this has made it all the more difficult for men to process their emotions and seek support for mental health challenges. Ultimately, this can lead to men suffering from mental health issues in silence and, in worst-case scenarios, suicide, violence or other extreme reactions.

What affects men’s mental health?

Many external life events, environments and stressors could impact men’s mental health. Moen provided just a few of them:

Societal or familial expectations 

Many men might feel that their fathers instilled unrealistic expectations for their careers, family lives and other mainstream markers of success. This can lead to lifelong feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and perfectionism.

Relationship issues, infidelity, separations and divorces 

Moen says that many of his male clients come to him during or after a breakup, separation or divorce, feeling lost and wondering where they went wrong. Many of them will try to change or improve themselves to win their partner back, and Moen says the risk of suicide is high during times like this. 

Poor coping skills 

Many men have been taught by their fathers and society that it isn’t masculine to show emotion, which can lead to an inability to process their feelings in healthy ways. Bernie says this can lead to addictions to things like gambling, alcohol and drugs as a means of dealing with negative emotions that have been pushed under the rug.

How to seek support for men’s mental health 

Although there can still be a strong stigma associated with men seeking help for their mental health, there are several supportive resources you can connect with.

A few options Moen recommends include:

  • Men’s groups. Engaging with other like-minded men going through similar battles can be a helpful resource for coping with mental health challenges.
  • One-on-one counselling. Finding a trusted therapist is essential because it can help you break down the barriers and express your emotions without judgment.
  • Couples therapy. If your mental health challenges stem from marital or relationship issues, attending couples therapy with your partner could help.

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health challenges, lean on your Inkblot EAP to find a therapist best suited to your needs.


Bernie Moen