Derry Bunting: Why Men’s Mental Health?

When a successful, prominent and well-known industry leader in the cycling community died from suicide unexpectedly last year, it shocked and surprised most everyone who knew him. Almost no one had any idea of his challenges and deep struggles with mental health. He spoke to few people about what he was facing and had trouble getting mental health support that worked for him. His journey is an illustration of the endemic challenges specific to Men’s Mental Health.


The Pressures of Being a Man

A report on depression and mental illness by the Canadian Mental Health Association rightly stresses that in a society that celebrates masculine qualities, there is little patience for any show of weakness in men (CMHA, 2010). From a very early age, boys are told to hold back their tears, and men are conditioned to hide their emotions. Men are expected to be able to stoically deal with life’s pressures, be tough, financially successful, and the slightest show vulnerability is seen as a weakness.

Many people, men and women both, experience extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, mental health struggles and suicide ideation all the while appearing healthy, happy and being highly successful in the eyes of everyone around them.

For many men, self-identity is defined by success in work and career, and for many, lack of, or decline in success, and potential loss of that work and career is seen as a potential loss of who they identify themselves to be. Potential for job loss through normal circumstances such as downsizing, consolidation, etc. is always there and when these events occur, they themselves can be triggers for extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, declining mental health and possible suicide.

For most men, reaching out for help when experiencing extreme stress, feelings of failure, depression, mental health difficulty and suicide ideation, is contrary to what they have been societally conditioned to do as a man. When they do consider reaching out for help, they struggle with what family and friends will think, and what the impact will be if their employer becomes aware. In management, this can be a career ending event.

In Canada, in 2011, there were 3728 suicides. 2781 of these suicides were male (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Men aged 40-60 have the highest number of suicides in Canada (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Women attempt suicide more often than men BUT men die by suicide three times more often than women (Statistics Canada, 2014).

Middle aged men die by suicide more often than any other group and it is these realities that need to be addressed.

In memory of the ones we have lost to suicide, in the hope that we can help all men who may experience struggles with mental health and suicide ideation, we have created a cycling event aimed at raising awareness of men’s mental health issues, reducing the stigma around suicide and encouraging open discussion.

Join Us. One Great Ride. Just Like Life

 

Register for the Peloton Ride 2019

 

– Derry Bunting, supporter of the Kintsugi Alliance for Men’s Mental Health

1 reply
  1. Gooden Center
    Gooden Center says:

    According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men died by suicide at a rate of 3.54 percent higher than women in 2017.

    Mental Health America reports 6 million men are affected by depression in the United States every single year.

    The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism puts the annual number of men dying due to alcohol-related causes at 62,000, compared to 26,000 women.

    And men are also two to three times more likely to misuse drugs than women.

    Depression and suicide are ranked as a leading cause of death among men, and yet they’re still far less likely to seek mental health treatment than women.
    The stigma men face

    “I think part of it may be this macho thing,” Dr. Raymond Hobbs, a physician consultant at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, told Healthline. “A lot of guys don’t want to admit they have this problem. They still see depression as a sign of weakness.”

    He was clear that this type of thinking is outdated, a relic of previous generations that doesn’t speak to the current medical understanding of mental illness.

    “We know so much more now, and we recognize the chemical changes that take place. In many ways, mental illness is just like diabetes, or any other physical condition,” he said.

    But Hobbs points out a lot of people don’t look at it that way. Instead they still see mental health struggles as a personal issue and a lack of personal fortitude.

    Because of that, and the stigma that still exists surrounding mental illness (not to mention, the pressure on men to always be strong), a lot of men struggle with admitting they may need help.

    “There is work for us to do as a society regarding the stigma of asking for help,” Zach Levin of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation told Healthline. “While we have done a much better job of reducing stigma and expanding opportunities for support, men still may be experiencing shame and guilt that could lead to them being less willing to ask for help.”

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