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Redefining Masculinity: Men's Mental Health Matters

Updated: Oct 18, 2023



In a society that often places expectations on men to be strong, brave, and unaffected by emotional challenges, the topic of men’s mental health remains a pressing concern. However, it is crucial to recognize that men too face their own unique struggles and deserve the opportunity to prioritize their mental well-being. When it comes to men, mental health, is often influenced by societal expectations, cultural concerns, and traditional gender roles. One significant challenge is the pressure to conform to rigid notions of masculinity, which can discourage men from seeking help or expressing their emotions.


Stress, anxiety, burnout, depression, and even postpartum depression can affect everyone regardless of gender. But there’s no denying that for men, poor mental health is more likely to lead to tragedy. Although statistics indicate that a larger proportion of women in Malaysia experience mental health issues compared to men, this does not negate the concerns surrounding higher suicide rates among men. Apart from suicide, a significant number of men face challenges when it comes to sharing their physical and mental struggles. As a result, illness and disease often go undiagnosed and untreated.



What causes mental health conditions in men?

Men are frequently seen as providers for their families, and their identity and sense of purpose are often closely linked to their capacity to fulfill this role. Recognizing and openly acknowledging a mental health condition can be perceived as a threat to fulfilling their responsibilities and caring for others. Their greatest fear is being stigmatized as weak or "crazy" for experiencing psychological disorders. This can result in feelings of hopelessness, fear, and shame. Additionally, the pressure to excel academically or professionally is recognized as a common trigger. Furthermore, physical health problems, relationship challenges, and difficulties in employment can also contribute to these circumstances too.


Certain indicators to be mindful of include emotions of sadness, anxiety, concern, irritability, withdrawal from social interactions, anger, disruptions in sleep patterns, diminished enthusiasm towards previously enjoyed activities, and an inability to derive pleasure. These emotional states can intensify significantly, endure for prolonged durations, and disrupt both professional and personal connections. In the absence of a support system, men are more susceptible to turning to detrimental coping mechanisms, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking, and gambling, and are even less inclined to share their mental state with their close friends or family. As men are less likely to seek the support of a mental health expert.



Who is at risk?

Mental health issues can be influenced by various factors that differ across age groups. These factors are specific to each stage of life and the challenges commonly faced during those times. It is important to understand that anyone, regardless of age can suffer from a mental health condition.

Childhood and Adolescence (age 0 - 22) Young boys face various challenges in the school environment that can significantly impact their well-being and academic performance. One common challenge is academic pressure, with expectations to excel in exams and meet high standards often leading to stress, anxiety, and burnout. Bullying and social pressures are also prevalent, as young individuals navigate complex social dynamics, peer acceptance, and the fear of being excluded or ridiculed. The rapid advancement of technology and social media presents its own set of challenges, with cyberbullying, online harassment, and the constant comparison to others' curated lives affecting their self-esteem and mental health. Additionally, navigating personal identity, dealing with transitions, and managing time and workload can contribute to feelings of overwhelm.

Early adulthood (age 17 - 45) In adulthood, men are faced with responsibilities related to careers, relationships, and family can become major stressors. Work-related stress, financial pressures, relationship difficulties, and the demands of balancing various roles can take a toll on his mental well-being.

Middle adulthood (aged 40 - 65)

Middle-aged men, on the other hand, may face concerns such as erectile dysfunction, prostate issues, and hormonal changes, which can impact their sexual health. These conditions can lead to feelings of frustration, decreased self-esteem, and anxiety, potentially contributing to mental health difficulties.

Late adulthood (aged 60 and above)

While, older men are more exposed to challenges such as age-related health issues caregiving responsibilities, and the adjustment to life transitions such as retirement or becoming empty nesters. Loneliness, isolation, and the loss of loved ones can also contribute to mental health concerns during these stages of life.



How to choose a mental health expert?

Life often presents us with significant obstacles and difficulties, making it essential to have the support and guidance of someone who can identify your strengths and provide us with the necessary tools to overcome them. However, with the multitude of options available, it can be confusing to determine which professional would best suit our specific needs. Do you speak to a GP, a mental health counselor, a clinical psychologist, or a psychiatrist? Here’s a brief description of each profession to help you better understand who to approach and get you started on your way to happiness and a balanced life. GP (General Practitioner) is a primary care physician who provides general medical care. They can diagnose and treat various health conditions, including mental health concerns. GPs may offer initial assessments, basic counseling, and prescribe medication for mental health issues. However, their expertise in mental health may be limited compared to specialized mental health professionals. Mental health counselor is professionally trained in counseling and therapy techniques. They are typically qualified and registered to provide counseling. Mental health counselors provide talk therapy and support for individuals, couples, families, or even groups. They help clients explore and address emotional behavioral, and psychological challenges using various therapeutic approaches. A clinical psychologist holds a doctoral degree in psychology and specializes in assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental health disorders. They offer psychotherapy, administer psychological assessments, and may conduct research. Clinical psychologists use evidence-based therapies to help individuals identify stressors as well as manage and overcome mental health difficulties.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in mental health. They have completed medical school and received specialized training in psychiatry. Psychiatrists can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe medication, and provide a range of treatments, including psychotherapy. They often work with complex cases involving severe mental illnesses or cases that require medication management.


If you notice someone displaying symptoms of a mental health condition or you would like to seek help for yourself, the first step would be to reach out to a GP or a mental health counselor. They will conduct initial assessments, inquire about a family history of mental health issues, identify symptoms, offer guidance on lifestyle changes, provide resilience-building strategies, and refer you to a clinical psychologist for therapy or treatment if needed. In today's world, achieving mental wellness and well-being is possible from the convenience of your own home. Virtual GP consultations and tele-counseling offer a confidential, affordable, accessible, and convenient space for you to connect with a doctor or counselor from anywhere, at any time. If you're interested in speaking with a GP or mental health expert online, simply book an appointment at a time that works best for you. We also encourage you to schedule the appointment during a time when you can relax and won't be rushed to return to work. Doctor Anywhere and FWD Takaful have collaborated to introduce the FWD Mind Strength Support Programme, aiming to provide free tele counseling for mental health to all Malaysians. You can easily access this service by visiting the website https://www.doctoranywhere.my/fwd-programme. On the webpage, you will find a video that explains how to redeem your promo code for the complimentary tele counseling sessions. It's essential to prioritize your mental health, so take the first step and make use of this valuable resource. Remember, your mental well-being is important!



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