Man sits with therapist

Let’s Talk About Men’s Mental Health

Let’s Talk About Men’s Mental Health

Behavioral Health Insights
AllMed Behavioral Health Medical Director


Nearly one in 10 men in the United States suffers from depression or anxiety each year, yet less than half seek treatment.1 Their reticence contributes to a lower diagnostic rate for men than for women. It may also help to explain why, in 2021, men were four times more likely than women to die by suicide.2 This June, in recognition of Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take time for a refresher on the mental health challenges men face, so we can all get better at reaching those who need help.

Gender Differences in Mental Health Symptoms

While research shows that men and women can develop most of the same mental health conditions, symptoms often manifest differently in men than in women. For example, it’s not unusual for men experiencing mental health issues to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse or violence.3 Symptoms more frequently seen in men may include4:

  • Avoidance/Escape – Spending a lot of time at work or on sports
  • Risky Behavior – Misuse of alcohol and/or drugs, reckless driving
  • Violence – Physical or Verbal – Controlling, violent or abusive behavior; inappropriate anger or aggressiveness
  • Physical Symptoms – Changes in mood, energy level, or appetite; difficulty concentrating, feeling restless or on edge.

These symptoms can mask serious mental health issues. A lack of awareness among doctors complicates matters further, often leading to misdiagnosis.

The Most Prevalent Conditions

Depression is the most common mental health condition affecting men, impacting over 6 million in the U.S. each year.5 Notably, though men are diagnosed with depression at half the rate of women, they die by suicide three to four times as often.6 Underdiagnosis likely partly explains the gap. At least as significant is the fact that men who attempt suicide are more likely to use a firearm, the most lethal method.7 About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death, while drug overdose—the most widely used method—is fatal in less than three percent of cases.8

Anxiety also takes a significant toll on men, interfering with job performance, schoolwork, and relationships. Approximately 3,020,000 men in the U.S. have a panic disorder, agoraphobia, or another type of phobia.9 Other common men’s mental health conditions include bipolar disorders, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Many factors play into the development of these disorders, including genetics and sociocultural influences.

The Corrosive Effect of Stigma

As researchers work to tease apart the biological and psychosocial factors that may impact mental health, one fact is clear: Across all ages, nationalities, ethnicities and races, men are far less likely than women to ask for help.10

Stigma is the primary driver behind this unwillingness. In the U.S., as in many societies, cultural conditioning and social norms define masculinity narrowly, in terms of strength, stoicism, and self-reliance. Pressures—often unconscious—to fit these masculine ideals can be toxic, reducing men’s capacity to recognize when they’re feeling sad and admit those feelings, even to themselves. When men do think about their feelings more deeply, the realization that their situation doesn’t match society’s concept of masculinity can cause shame.

Given this cultural conditioning, it’s perhaps not surprising that gay and bisexual men, who may struggle for social acceptance, are likely to have higher rates of substance abuse than heterosexual men11—or that male military veterans, who may be reluctant to talk about past trauma, use alcohol and drugs at nearly twice the rate that female vets do.12 These trends reflect the larger societal problem of a harmful concept of masculinity.

Making Progress

Addressing the growing crisis in men’s mental health requires, first, an ability to recognize the signs, and second, an effort to reframe our message to boys and men. Emphasizing that real strength and courage call for facing and dealing with one’s problems rather than avoiding them has the potential to open more men’s minds to the possibility of treatment. By working together to raise awareness and deepen understanding, we can make substantial progress toward improving men’s health and hopefully save lives.


  1. Anxiety & Depression Association of America. Men’s Mental Health. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide Data and Statistics.” 2021. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  3. National Institute of Mental Health. Men and Mental Health. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  4. Ibid
  5. Mental Health America. 5 Minute Guide to Men’s Mental Health Infographic. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  6. Leonard, Jayne. “Men’s mental health: What you need to know.” Medical News Today. May 31, 2023. Accessed Jun 6, 2023.
  7. Schumacher, H. “Why more men than women die by suicide.” BBC Future. Mar 17, 2019. Accessed Jun 6, 2023.
  8. Drexler, M. “The Hidden Toll.” Harvard Public Health. 2023. Accessed Jun 6, 2023.
  9. Mental Health America. 5 Minute Guide to Men’s Mental Health Infographic.
  10. Sinha, R. “We Need to Talk About Men’s Mental Health at Work.” Harvard Business Review. Nov. 5, 2022. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  11. Medley G, Lipari R, et al. “Sexual Orientation and Estimates of Adult Substance Use and Mental Health: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Accessed Jun 5, 2023.
  12. Mental Health America. 5 Minute Guide to Men’s Mental Health Infographic.