Is there a Difference in Mental Health Between Genders?

mental health

Mental Health is described by Wikipedia as, “…an individual’s ability to enjoy life and to create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.” 

Although both genders are equally susceptible to symptoms of mental health disorders, the types show a difference between males and females. Of course, very individual is unique– this is not a generalization, but a look at the most common per CDC statistics.

Women tend to have the most difficulty with anxiety and depression, while men have a higher tendency for addiction

On average, 29% of women will seek help for their Mental Health, compared to 17% of males. 

As children, we usually accept when our female child cries or expresses emotion. On the other hand, when a male child shows emotion they can be told to “toughen up” or “stop being a crybaby.”You can see whether intentional or unintentional, the message sent to men is, “deal with it.” 

I decided to ask my husband some questions to get a clear male view on this: 
Me: When a guy friend would come to you with an emotional issue, what is the reaction you and your friends usually have? 
Husband: Well first, it would make me uncomfortable to talk about it. Second, I would give advice about steps to take. For example, if it’s dealing with divorce, I would suggest a specific lawyer or explain the process. Third, I would try to suggest something to put their mind at ease or distract them from their problem. 
Me: It sounds to me like men would prefer to focus on the logistics of helping solve the person’s problems and deploy some distraction methods. 
Husband: Precisely. 

This was interesting to me as I ponder how women support one another. If a girlfriend of mine is having difficulties, we will meet for coffee and talk for hours about it. 

Perhaps this is a contribution to why the suicide rate is 3.3 men to every woman. And to add to that, 76% of suicides committed are by men versus 24% women.  The most common reason for both genders is relationship problems (42%) followed by Past Crisis or Upcoming crisis in 2 weeks (29%). 

In my experience, when a man reaches out for Life Coaching, they tend to express more shame than women. It has taken longer to make the decision to seek help. 

However, they do tend to make the most progress in the shortest amount of time. It seems as if they have saved it all up for this moment. Once they have a safe place to express themselves, there is a sense of relief and the ability to change is accepted.

Another observation with my male clients is the willingness to try new things. I find my female clients prefer their “comfort zone” over the unknown. 

If we really want to prevent mental health difficulties and suicide, we need to start from the beginning and encourage children to express emotion. We need to let the men in our lives know that it’s ok to share their vulnerabilities and thoughts. Society should remove the shame of seeking help no matter what gender we are. 

Finally, I must reiterate that connection, love, kindness, and compassion are the answer. 

Love and Blessings,