The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


The student news site of Adlai E. Stevenson High School


Man Down

Men’s mental health in society has been on a constant decline

The following story may contain words that trigger people. If you are currently struggling with any feelings of suicide, depression, self-harm, or harm to others, please reach out to any trusted adult, your SST team, or the National Help Hotline – 988 to speak with health professionals and receive confidential support. Additionally, if you suspect someone else to be experiencing severe mental health concerns without support and may be contemplating suicide, please reach out to any of the aforementioned resources.

Adam Becker ’24* enters his classroom, a heavy cloud of despair shadowing him, pressing down with each passing minute. The weight of not being understood or being able to talk about his problems blurs his focus, entangling him in overwhelming anxiety and a deepening gloom.

Throughout the world, men consistently fail to receive adequate resources and support for their mental health conditions due to stigmas against men’s mental health, gender norms, and expectations for males, among many other factors. For instance, every 1 in 10 men experience depression or anxiety, but less than half will receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. 

“Awareness about men’s mental health is incredibly important, but there is perhaps less awareness because of unfortunate stigmas that not only surround mental health, ‌but specifically men’s mental health,” counselor Natalie Meiners says. “As a society, it is common to feed into stereotypes of men being able to resolve problems on their own or showing weakness if they seek help.”

The persistent stigmas surrounding mental health in men often lead to under-reporting and a reluctance to seek help, reinforcing harmful stereotypes about masculinity and self-reliance. Men can demonstrate the same symptoms as women, but not always be considered in the context of depression and are often dismissed as “acting out.”

According to Becker, these misconceptions can inadvertently trivialize serious conversations about mental health, making it difficult to maintain the seriousness needed when addressing such critical issues. In a survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, 51.7% of females with any mental illness (AMI) received mental health services compared with 40.0% of males with AMI. Becker recognizes the stigma around men’s mental health and how it has devalued the struggles that men face.

“A big issue about stigmas surrounding men’s mental health is when you’re talking about a mental health crisis, and someone turns it into a joke,” Becker said. “Some people might try to avoid opening up to their friends because the  conversation becomes unserious, and getting them to take it seriously is exhausting.”

Becker highlights the desensitization of men’s mental health and how it is often dismissed amongst others. Similarly, Sachin Doshi, the Director of Development at Mental Health America (MHA), examined many unexpected factors that can also explain the disproportionate number of men who fail to receive adequate treatment. In an article, he explains how the manners by which men and women display and present similar symptoms of mental health concerns can vary. 

According to WebMD, despite efforts to improve access to mental health services, men continue to experience higher rates of sleeplessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, heart attacks, and strokes due to misdiagnosis and subsequent lack of treatment, leading to a cycle of adverse outcomes. Addressing these inequalities, initiatives aimed at normalizing mental health discussions for men are seeing positive shifts in behavior and attitudes, paving the way for increased engagement and support.

“I do believe initiatives such as Men’s Mental Health Month have allowed for more acceptance and openness in talking about men’s mental health and destigmatizing the idea of getting help,” Meiners said. “In speaking with colleagues or friends, they confirm there have been more men seeking mental health support than ever before, and I do believe current initiatives have played a large role in this.”

The growing acknowledgment of and participation in mental health initiatives reflects a significant cultural shift towards recognizing and addressing men’s mental health issues — a trend supported by recent studies by Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey shows a rise in mental health service utilization among men by over 20 percent in the past decade. For students, Meiners outlines several initiatives aimed at offering practical support and enhancing overall well-being, demonstrating a continued dedication to creating healthier settings.

“Some of Stevenson’s initiatives include Signs of Suicide Programming, various support groups run by members of the Student Services department, and wellness initiatives to support balance and self-care amongst our student body,” Meiners said.

According to MHA, more than four times as many men as women die by suicide in the U.S. In 2010, a total of 38,364 Americans died by suicide, with 79% of these suicides identifying as male. To prevent suicides, one large initiative that Meiners and other members of the Student Support Team (SST) have piloted in Stevenson is the Acknowledge-Care-Tell (ACT) program. 

The ACT program helps students recognize the warning signs that someone is struggling with their mental health, support that individual, and tell a trusted adult about their concern. Teachers like adult tutor Nathan Lewandowski have also found other methods, such as therapy, very beneficial for recuperating from depression and other related mental disorders.

“Medication has helped a lot, [as well as] therapy [and] having someone that you can talk to about what to do to proceed with a lot of things,” Lewandowski said. “ We all have uncertainties and anxiety, so someone who professionally cares about you [has] the ability to be a little bit more objective as to what you want [and help] you figure out what you want and what you should do.”

Despite the help a professional can provide, Becker emphasizes that healing begins when one is ready to engage authentically because forced interactions are counterproductive, and is doing fine now. As he navigated the persistent challenges of depression, he realized the importance of those around him and adopted a resilience for the tougher times ahead.

“One of the worst things about depression, though, is that it never really goes away. It looms in the back of your mind,” Becker said. “Sometimes it subsides, but it can also get worse after it gets better. One of the ways I’ve dealt with it is appreciating the days that it’s better and focusing on the future when it does get bad.”

*Names changed to protect anonymity

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

Please note that Statesman has the right to monitor comments and accepts comments at staff discretion.
All Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.