In a world that is ever-changing in opinions and vantage points, it can be challenging for all groups of people to feel like they are being fully cared for or heard. For many groups of individuals, societal issues such as basic human rights and appropriate recognition have been fought for over recent years. For other groups of individuals, life can seemingly appear to just continue to roll-on, with little to no fight, rather acceptance of how and why they are expected to behave on a socially-acceptable level. This is the case for many men throughout the United States and the world who have battled with hiding their emotions, feelings, and troubles in an attempt to live up to the stigma of what being a man is all about in the eyes of society.
Physically strong, mentally savvy, successful, and void of the ability to shed tears, the socially accepted man is one that can be found anywhere. However, most men are just portraying an outward appearance of what others have expected in the past, and currently expect of them now – to simply “be a man”. Push down the negative emotions, continue to press on, and by all means, do not shed a single tear in public. Unfortunately, this social expectation and stigma surrounding men does little for their self-esteem and overall well-being, although it might make those around them feel more comfortable, as they know what to expect. As a result, many men in particular grapple with mental illnesses that go untreated, often leading to a number of complications, up to and including the development of a substance abuse problem.
The Domino Effect of Mental Illness in Men
Many men throughout the country are negatively affected by a number of different mental health conditions, including however not limited to, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder. Each one of these conditions can cause symptoms that can make functioning at home, work, or in social circles challenging for a man. For some, social isolation and self-harming behaviors might develop, while others might be unable to stay focused or uphold responsibilities. One mental illness that typically occurs more in men than in women is substance abuse.
Substance abuse can be caused by a number of different genetic and environmental factors. When it comes to men, however, there is a strong environmental aspect that is often tied to their development of a substance use disorder. As mentioned before, in today’s society, men are expected to present in a specific manner and with a specific demeanor. Attempting to uphold that façade can be excruciating and nearly impossible, especially if one is grappling with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. As a result, turning to alcohol or drugs to cope with “hiding” the issues that pertain to his mental health can seem like a simple fix that will keep him continuing on with the “appropriate” perception. However, what can occur inside can be so destructive that it can become life-threatening.
For example, men who suffer from depression are likely to display a number of symptoms that include escapist behavior (such as staying at work or drowning out reality through sports), violent behavior, feelings of sadness or hopelessness, trouble sleeping, risky behavior, and losing interest in previously enjoyed activities. Ignoring these symptoms because of pressure to continue to perform at work, home, or school can lead to a pattern of self-medication through drugs and/or alcohol. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), more than half of the 20.2 million adults in the United States who abuse substances also have a co-occurring mental illness.
Since men cope with mental illness and substance abuse differently than women do, it is more likely that they will experience effects including shame and guilt for their actions. However, it is most common for men to respond to the feelings they are having of shame and guilt by turning to anger and violence, which is socially perceived to be a coping mechanism that allows them to release their pent-up emotions in a manner that do not label them a “wimp” or a “cry baby”. However, these reactions just serve to perpetuate the cycle of mental illness and substance abuse in men, as they likely become more shameful and guiltier for behaving this way.
Specialized Treatment for Men with Mental Illness and Substance Abuse Problems
Throughout the country, there are many facilities and resources available to men to help them address the issues that they are facing in a caring, non-judgmental setting. Most treatment centers provide a combination of medication and therapeutic services that allow men to tap into what they are grappling with, as well as offer them the space to sort it all out without the fear of being ridiculed.
Programs that offer services including (but not limited to) medically-supervised detox, outpatient, residential, and day treatment are helpful in allowing men to be vulnerable enough to finally address the core root of their negative behaviors. In most centers, men are placed in therapeutic groups with other men who share similar experiences, thus forcing a bond of trust and honesty that promotes strong recovery. From there, men can continue to flourish alongside of professional therapists and specialists who help them build a foundation to stand on that no longer includes untreated mental illness, substance abuse, or the fear of not living up to a stigma that is truly just that – a stigma.
At Skyway House Detox & Treatment Center, we understand the pain that men can experience when struggling with conditions such as these. Our programming is vast, and covers all areas that a man might be feeling like he is struggling with. With the help of our trained team of professionals, we can help men establish a firmly-rooted recovery and go on to live happy, positive lives. Do not waste any time – if you or a loved one is struggling, please contact us right now.