How is mental health different for men and women?
Here’s a stereotype that happens to be true, according to research from the Cleveland Clinic: Men don’t like going to the doctor. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic survey found that men would rather do about anything else than go to the doctor. This is especially true when it comes to mental health.
Men are less likely than women to receive mental health care, yet are nearly four times more likely to die by suicide than women, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. And men are more likely than women to not only use drugs and alcohol, but also die from substance use.
So why are so many men suffering in silence? Experts say the stigma surrounding mental health is one big reason. People may avoid getting mental health care because they don’t want to be perceived as “weak” or “crazy.” They may worry that their employer will find out and judge them for needing help. Toxic ideas of what masculinity means also play a role, with some men learning to suppress their emotions and “man up” during childhood. About one-third of men who participated in a 2016 survey in the Community Mental Health Journal said they thought less of people with mental health problems.
What warning signs of mental health issues should men and the people in their lives look out for?
While women are more likely to be diagnosed and receive care for a mental health disorder, men are more likely to die from mental health issues. In fact, depression and suicide are listed as leading causes of death among men, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Men are also two to three times more likely than women to use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate for their mental health issues. Nearly 60 percent of men report drinking in the last 30 days, compared to 40 percent of women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men are also twice as likely to binge drink as women. And three-quarters of deaths linked to excessive alcohol use are in men, according to the CDC.
Men are also four times more likely than women to die by suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Middle-aged white men are most at risk. White men accounted for 70 percent of all the suicides that occurred in the United States in 2020, according to data from the foundation.
According to Mental Health America, men often downplay how they feel and avoid talking about their problems. As a result, just one-third of men who experience depression and anxiety daily take medication to help ease their symptoms, according to the American Psychological Association. And only one-fourth of these men see a mental health provider.
If you are worried about a man in your life, watch out for the following signs and symptoms.
- Acting irritable or angry
- Experiencing mood changes
- Sleeping or eating more or less than usual
- Drinking too much or more than usual
- Using illicit drugs
- Engaging in risky or unsafe behavior
- Feeling sad, hopeless or lost
- Not feeling anything at all
- Feeling sick or having unexplained aches and pains
- Having thoughts about suicide
Make sure to talk to your doctor if you’re feeling any of these symptoms. Your doctor can work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you feel your best.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. If you don’t know what to do or who to call, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255/988.
I'm not ready to see a doctor. What other help can I get?
If you’re not ready to go to the doctor, you can turn to our community specialists at the Florida Blue Centers. You can ask questions and get help finding resources in your community, whether you are a Florida Blue member or not. Our centers also offer webinars and classes on topics like mental health, at no extra cost. Visit your local center or call 1-877-352-5830, or learn more at floridablue.com/center.
Here are some more resources you can try if you‘re a Florida Blue member:
- Try using meQuilibrium — an online mental well-being program designed to help you face each day with confidence. By using meQuilibrium, you can build resilience, learn ways to combat stress, find out your stress score and learn your stress triggers. It is available at no extra cost with most health plans. Look for meQuilibrium in the Find & Get Care section of your member account. Click the Mental Well-Being tab and scroll to meQuilibrium to get started..
- If you’re eligible for our care programs, reach out to your care manager for more information on mental health care. With the BlueForMe app, you can do it through your smart device.
Also, if you’re not taking care of your basic needs, it can be hard to feel your best. Here are some simple ways you can improve how you’re feeling:
- Get enough sleep. Sleep has a big effect on your mood. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, try sticking to a sleep schedule and setting a bedtime routine to help you feel more tired at bedtime. Check out the Blue Answers Sleep and Mental Well-Being page.
- Eat well. Make sure to eat nutritious food. Check out the Blue Answers Eating for Your Health page.
- Stay active. This can be as simple as taking regular walks, working in the garden or doing any physical activity you enjoy.
- Connect with friends and family. Even if you are an introvert, humans crave social contact. Take a walk or have lunch with a friend. Volunteer for an organization you support. Or find groups of people who share the same hobbies as you. Check out the Blue Answers Doing Good is Good For You page.
- Practice gratitude. Take some time every day to think about things you are thankful for. This simple practice can shift your mindset over time. Humans tend to focus on our negative emotions, but practicing gratitude can be a reminder that there are good things in your life.
- Learn to relax: try relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or using a guided imagery app on your phone. Learning to relax can help your body slow down and teach your mind what it feels like to be calm.
- For more ideas, check out the Blue Answers Your Mental Health Matters page.
I'm ready to see a mental health specialist. How do I find someone?
- Our community specialists at our Florida Blue Centers can help you find a mental health specialist in your community. You don’t have to be a Florida Blue member to get help from a community specialist. Visit your local center, call 1-877-352-5830 or learn more at floridablue.com/center.
- If you are a Florida Blue member, you can also call our care partner Lucet** at 1-866-287-9569. Let them know your needs and they will help you find a therapist in your community or available for a virtual visit. Virtual visits can eliminate travel time to see the therapist, making it much easier to fit a conversation with a therapist into your busy schedule.
- Florida Blue and Lucet have teamed up with the nonprofit Shatterproof to offer Floridians access to ATLAS®. ATLAS is an easy-to-use and free digital resource to browse local addiction treatment programs by service type, insurance coverage and more. Access ATLAS at TreatmentATLAS.org.
Florida Blue contracts with Lucet to provide behavioral health services. Shatterproof is an independent company. Health insurance is offered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, Inc. DBA Florida Blue. HMO coverage is offered by Health Options, Inc., DBA Florida Blue HMO. Both companies are Independent Licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.