November is men’s mental health awareness month, and as the semester comes to a close and finals loom ever-nearer, this topic becomes increasingly relevant.
According to Better Health, a health forum published by the Australian government, on average one in eight men will experience depression in their lives and another one in five will experience anxiety. Men are less likely than women to experience these symptoms and are also less likely than women to treat these issues or to seek out professional help, due to social stigma.
The American Psychiatric Association states that 5 percent of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Once again, women are more likely to be diagnosed than men, according to the National Institute of Health.
While these conditions can be challenging, there are a number of ways to combat them. Maintaining a healthy diet has been shown in a number of studies to decrease depression and anxiety, as described in Harvard Health Publishing from the Harvard Medical School. As a college student, healthy eating can be expensive but there are several resources available through campus, such as Fresh Food Fridays or Tasty Tuesdays, that can provide students with both recipes and groceries for healthy meals.
Another way of combating the “winter blues” is to maintain a hobby. From rock climbing to exercise to cooking or riding a bike, having a hobby that encourages healthy habits has been shown to alleviate the effects of depression and anxiety. Thankfully the gym at UVU is available to use for free to all full time students.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Disease, approximately three out of four men were considered to be overweight or obese, impacting mental health in a number of ways. Speaking on the relationship between exercise and mental health, the National Institute of Health claimed, “Lifestyle modifications could be a cost-effective way to improve health and quality of life. Lifestyle modifications can assume especially great importance in individuals with serious mental illness.”
A study from the American Foundation for Suicide Pervention found that in 2019, men died by suicide 3.63 times more than women. During the same year, white men accounted for 69.38% of suicide deaths, demonstrating that while there may be fewer reported cases of mental illness in men, they are still impacted significantly.
Despite the stigma surrounding mental health, it is important to remember that there are resources to help and people who care. Utah Valley University’s Crisis Services offer multiple resources to assist with intrusive thoughts and mental illness. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support for people in distress.
When asked about mental health, Ryan Lambert, professor of student leadership and success studies and an alumnus of the University of Utah and UVU, said, “be willing to talk about it and learn more about it. The data clearly shows that mental health affects all of us, in one degree or another.”
“And at the end of the day, we just need to get better at giving people the benefit of the doubt,” noted Lambert. “Almost everyone is silently going through something, and we are all trying our best. We should remember that in our interactions with people and look to make it easier for them to have a good day instead of adding to their silent struggles.”