Breaking Down the Barriers: 6 Men's Health Stigmas to Overcome

Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure on you as a man as societal expectations and sheer assumptions about your gender prevail, standing the test of time like a brick wall, and continuing to dictate behavioral patterns today. But men’s health is far more important than the stigmas we’re led to believe.

Wouldn’t we all live a much healthier and happier life if there was no judgment and criticism — from friends, family, coworkers, or your community as a whole? Sadly, men’s health stigmas are omnipresent and as a result, lead to many men seeking care for only a fraction of what they need.

This means that countless health issues are left untouched or treatment incomplete due to stigmas that cloud our reasoning. Today, our societies are finally pivoting and embracing a long-overdue transition that supports both genders on their journey to physical and mental well-being.

Men’s Health Stigmas

Several stigmas about men’s health are universally present, with some having been introduced to you as early as your childhood. Below we will take a look at some of the most prevalent men’s health stigmas to date. 

Stigma 1: Men’s Mental Health

Why is it that men’s mental health is rarely discussed openly? With roughly 20% of American men suffering from some sort of mental health issues, it certainly should be. However, cultural and societal expectations make it difficult for men to speak up.

It’s not uncommon that men will face backlash for seeking help for mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or even PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Less than half the men with depression will actually receive treatment for it, ultimately leading to 4 times more men dying from suicide when compared to women. 

Therefore, gender stereotypes can become extremely overwhelming and prevent men from seeking the help they need.

Stigma 2: Treatment for Physical Ailments

It’s safe to say that women are definitely more vigilant of their health, with higher rates of females attending routine check-ups and women being 33% more likely than men to go see a physician. But why can’t men do the same?

The issue is that men feel a mountain of pressure to keep up the image of physical toughness. Society has made men cave into the pressure of portraying an invincible physique — a completely unattainable image.

Sadly, this pattern leads to delayed diagnoses, exacerbating physical health issues and delaying valuable treatment.

Stigma 3: Display of Emotions & Vulnerability in Men

You’ve been taught all kinds of stereotypical gender norms from a young age, which are probably some of the most prominent social cues that push ill-defined masculinity and nurture the image of the stoic emotionally-deprived male. 

This social and cultural misguidance has led to countless men burying their vulnerability and hiding any and all weaknesses. It’s also led to the “norm” that suppressing any emotions that may break through to the surface is the right thing to do.

Because vulnerability in men is “frowned upon” in many societies, men are less likely to seek emotional support — even when they urgently need it. This means that sometimes they will neither reach out to a counselor nor will they open up to family members or even their spouse, leaving no outlet for their emotional turmoil.

Stigma 4: Body Image

Females are not the only gender that can have a completely skewed image of their appearance. With an upward-trending obesity epidemic and increasing rates of social media use and cyberbullying, men have long joined the ranks of insecurities.

Whether it’s the lack of facial hair, overweight, or undefined muscles, many men find themselves under the microscope, comparing themselves to the millions of unrealistic expectations lurking on the internet.

Sadly, a poor body image can shatter your confidence and make you feel uneasy, preventing you from seeking treatment for mental disorders. The Mental Health Foundation found that 28% of adult males have experienced anxiety due to body image-related concerns.

Stigma 5: Men’s Sexual Health

Men don’t talk about certain things, period. But wouldn’t it make sense to discuss medical concerns with a qualified healthcare professional so he can help you? 

Yet, there’s a strong stigma surrounding men’s sexual health with many feeling too ashamed and embarrassed to admit to things like erectile dysfunction (ED), premature ejaculation, or STDs (sexually transmitted disease).

Common concerns include testosterone deficiency, which can also impair your quality of life, cause fatigue and weight gain, and trigger depressive symptoms. However, many men refuse to speak to their physician about things like ED, falsely assuming that low testosterone will only affect their sex life — which is not necessarily true.

Stigma 6: Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is one of the most stigmatized social issues in our society, with language and discrimination significantly impacting those affected. It can also lead many men to feel ashamed about their addiction and go into hiding instead of reaching out for help — which can be very dangerous. 

However, the truth is that we consider substance abuse a medical condition, one which is treatable.

Unfortunately, sometimes even after successful rehabilitation, the perception that it’s your “own fault” and that you should handle problems independently prevails. However, a mental health counselor can help you rebuild your shattered self-esteem and help you learn to accept your past whilst moving towards a brighter future.

Society is slowly pivoting toward normalizing some of the language surrounding substance use disorder — but while this is a work in progress, remember that there’s never a shame in taking a step forward!

Men’s Health Means ALL Your Health

Men’s health is multifaceted and while you should be comfortable discussing it with a qualified healthcare professional, many aspects of men’s health remain highly stigmatized.

Therefore, normalizing men’s health is a critical aspect of achieving better health outcomes, raising awareness, and continuing the upward trend. Discussing men’s sexual health, vulnerability, and emotional challenges needs to stop being a societal taboo — and it starts with you!

Let’s throw stigmas out of the window! Sign up for our newsletter and empower yourself with knowledge about men’s health. After all, we’re in this together!

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