Mental Health Stigma: Is It Worse for Men?

From family to friends to colleagues, the individuals from whom men most need support are often the least able or willing to give it. Instead of seeing mental illness as a medical condition, they may chalk it up to “weakness” or simply “being crazy.” Their behavior may include:

Unfortunately, those who haven’t dealt with depression, anxiety, or other conditions sometimes lack empathy or understanding for those who do. Misconceptions and biases about mental illness can lead people to say and do hurtful things, many of which they aren’t aware cause harm.

For men battling mental health problems, the stigma they experience may be worse than that affecting women. The pressure to maintain a “tough” exterior has been ingrained in male culture, making it difficult for men with psychological conditions to disclose them to others of their sex.

Types of Stigma Men with Mental Illness Face


From family to friends to colleagues, the individuals from whom men most need support are often the least able or willing to give it. Instead of seeing mental illness as a medical condition, they may chalk it up to “weakness” or simply “being crazy.” Their behavior may include:

  • Ridicule. Even in jest, poking fun at another person is a cruel response to their suffering. One joke can be enough to prevent a man from talking about his condition to anyone else.
  • Ostracism. Sometimes worse than outright mockery is being abandoned by loved ones. Depression or anxiety can make you feel alone, but actually being alone is more difficult by far.
  • Discrimination. Employers aware of a man’s psychological illness may use subtle discrimination to deny him a job, exclude him from a promotion, or fire him. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove this is the cause of a company’s action – and pursue legal redress – unless they explicitly cite it as their reason.

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Ways Men Can Overcome Mental Health Stigma


If you have experienced stigma as a result of your condition, you have likely experienced a wide range of emotions, from anger to sadness. Although you often can’t change the way other people treat you, you can create an environment in which your health is the top priority. Ways to achieve this include:

  1. Seek out virtual support. Men from all over the world are facing similar challenges to yours. Online communities and message boards are a safe and anonymous way to discuss your illness without exposing yourself to stigma.
  2. Keep a journal. Working through your thoughts and feelings in writing can be an effective way to analyze and manage emotions.
  3. Talk with a female friend. Although everyone is different, women lean more towards empathy and compassion than many men do. A trusted female friend can provide the social support you need through difficult times.
  4. Visit a counselor. Mental health treatment is completely safe and confidential. It is also one of the most important ways to enact lasting recovery from your condition, so you can begin to feel like yourself again.

At Bridges to Recovery, we believe patients of all ages, races, genders, and other characteristics are entitled to the highest levels of care. To learn more about our inpatient treatment options, contact us today.