Mental Health Facts
Over the last four decades, men have accounted for most of the suicide deaths in Canada. The pandemic has been a factor, but experts suggest that elevated rates of depression among men are also due to differences in their experience and expression of poor mental health. Men are less likely to seek help and more likely to experience social stigma. In turn, this leads to higher rates of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness.
Mental Health during COVID-19
National polls and surveys by the Mental Health Commission of Canada have shown that rates of psychological distress, anxiety, and depression have increased for everyone during the pandemic. Risk factors for men also include loneliness, alcohol and substance abuse, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. The impact has been more pronounced among men living in marginalized conditions, such as Indigenous, sexual and gender minority men. Compared to heterosexual men, gay, bisexual, or queer men are up to six times as likely to experience suicidal ideation.
Many of the public health measures adopted during the pandemic, like stay-at-home orders, or closure of non-essential businesses, have impacted our usual social networks and supports. National surveys conducted during the pandemic show that mental health deterioration and binge drinking have been more pronounced in those who have lost their job, are no longer working due to the pandemic, and are very worried about their finances. Men who are socially isolated, lonely, or have experienced a relationship breakdown are at risk.
The pressure to be "strong"
Men can feel pressure to always be strong, to be tough, self-reliant and stoic. This can feed into negative attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours that relate to mental health and can affect their willingness to get help. We must all work towards reframing “masculinity” to allow for greater expression and recognition of emotion for men, and to open the doors to seek help. This reframing may help de-stigmatize mental illness among men, enhance the quality of health-care provider interactions, and encourage men to build better personal relationships. Try to understand your own biases and support the men in your life to seek help when they need it.
Men’s rates of suicide have been observed to be consistently higher than women at all ages.
Nearly half of Canadian men aged 18-34 feel pressure to be manly
82% of all Canadian men consider mental health a priority
It's a fact. Guys get depressed.
Men exhibit lower levels of mental health literacy (MHL) compared to women and may have difficulty recognizing the signs and symptoms of male-type depression. Depression in men can look different than what we might expect. Signs are irritability, anger, impulsivity, or substance use. Noticeable changes in mood and conduct, like drinking more, withdrawing from family and friends, and feeling angry and impulsive can also be signs of depression or suicidal behaviour. New fathers aren’t screened for postpartum depression like new mothers are, but 10% of new fathers experience symptoms within six months of their child’s birth.
Men who are Indigenous, who are part of a sexual and gender minority group, who are immigrants or refugees, part of a racialized group, or have certain occupations, are at elevated risk for depression and suicide. These groups experience unique and intersecting risk factors related to societal stigma, social exclusion, and exposure to trauma, abuse, and violence, including homophobia, displacement, sexual and physical abuse, and historical and colonial violence.
Seek help for depression - it’s a sign of strength.
For every man that dies by suicide in Canada, many people — including family members, friends, and community members — are left behind. The design and implementation of appropriate suicide prevention strategies for men — such as awareness campaigns, gatekeeper training, and group-based therapies, and those that aim to decrease barriers to accessing mental health supports among men and those impacted by their suicide — are crucial for men’s mental well-being and for successful life promotion and suicide prevention efforts made on their behalf. Mental Health awareness for men is more important now than ever before.
Men are less likely to seek out help for mental health difficulties and are about half as likely to seek out help from a mental health professional and/or a general practitioner as women. Starting the conversation about men's mental health can be hard - but we can all make a difference in the lives of our friends, families, and loved ones by checking in with each other. If you become a voice for change for other men, then we all become stronger.
Help is available
The Canada Suicide Prevention Service, available 24/7/365 | 1-833-456-4566
Send a text to 45645, available 4pm-Midnight ET (standard text messaging rates apply)