Men, Mental Health, and Addiction Recovery

Nov 21, 2022

Right now, there is a mental health crisis gripping the United States. That may seem dramatic, but it is unfortunately true. Worse still, half of the population is chronically underserved and faces a greater stigma for coming forward: men. 

While mental health and substance use disorders affect both men and women, men are far less likely to seek treatment than women. The types of mental illness and comorbidities differ between groups, as well. 

There are some biological reasons why certain mental health disorders tend to affect men more than women. According to scientific studies, low levels of testosterone in the body may be related to the development of stress disorders and depression. Low testosterone is a biological change that can affect men as they age. 

Because men are less likely to seek treatment for mental health, their risk of comorbid substance use disorder goes up. In fact, some men may turn to substance use as a form of self-medication for their mental health symptoms. 

The stigma of men and mental health is very real, but did you know some very famous men suffer from chronic disorders? 

Sports personalities Terry Bradshaw and Larry Sanders have both been diagnosed with depression. Baseball star Jim Piersall suffered from bipolar disorder. Football Hall of Famer Earl Campbell was diagnosed with panic and anxiety disorders. The list goes on. 

Even still, the conversation about men and mental health has largely been ignored, to their detriment. Read on as we explore the facts about men’s mental health, and the importance of continuing to seek help.

Men and Mental Health Stigma

One out of every five Americans suffers from an anxiety disorder. While roughly half of those who do are women and the other half are men, women are far more likely to seek treatment and overcome their disorder. 

Worse yet, there are stark differences in outcomes for men. Because of the stigma that prevents men from seeking mental health treatment, they are far more likely than women to engage in practices of self-harm and are more likely to engage in suicidal ideation. 

So what is stigma? Stigma is a negative attitude toward a person or persons based on a misperception of a weak character. In America, the norms of masculinity encourage men not to seek help and create a culture where men are told they can fix themselves by “manning up.” 

This is simply not true, though. Mental health and substance use disorders cannot be self-cured. As an alumnus, you know that seeking help for these issues is a sign of strength, not weakness. We are stronger when we lean on each other for help.

Co-occurring Disorders and You

As we already discussed, masculine norms cause stigma that prevents men from asking for help with mental illness. Not only are men less likely than women to seek treatment for co-occurring disorders, they are also more likely than women to use at least one controlled substance to self-medicate. 

One of the first steps that someone with a co-occurring mental health or substance use disorder has to take is admitting they have a problem. This begins the Twelve Steps, the tried-and-true sobriety treatment pioneered and championed by many organizations, including Alcoholics Anonymous. 

As a person follows the Twelve Steps, they learn the ways in which they need help and their own lack of power to cure themselves. This may run contrary to the way men are taught to operate in our world, but the truth is everyone needs help sometimes. The first step to getting that assistance is by humbling oneself and asking.

The Need for Specialized Care

As we’ve said before, most of the research in mental health and treatment has been focused on populations of women. Women are far more likely to seek treatment for mental health, and less likely to be stigmatized for seeking help. 

However, that does not mean that men do not need the same level of care as women. In fact, men tend to face particular obstacles when mental illness goes untreated. Untreated mental illness can lead to job loss, food insecurity, financial burden, and homelessness. 

Men are more likely than women to be homeless, and likely to be homeless for longer. Homeless men are likely to be diagnosed with severe psychiatric illness. Men who face homelessness due to mental illness are more likely to be military veterans with PTSD. 

Fortunately, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) established standards within the insurance community that required coverage for mental health services. Because of this law, more insurance companies are covering behavioral health treatment than ever before. 

This is especially useful for individuals with pre-existing conditions that may be comorbid with a mental health or substance use disorder. Under the ACA, no insurance company can deny you for insurance based on previously diagnosed disorders.

A Different Approach to Treatment and Recovery

Treatment can take many forms at treatment facilities and across the spectrum of providers, but one thing remains the same: a commitment to healing. At Renaissance Ranch, client care and success are a number one priority. 

That’s why our approach follows a spiritually-based 12-Step program, designed to put you back in touch with your spirituality while you heal. Also included in the approach are cutting-edge medical techniques, experiential and adventure therapy, and traditional therapy resources. 

That is what it takes to restore good well-being after facing the trials of a mental health or substance use disorder. Even in recovery, we want you to reach your long-term goals, following a 12-Step program and continuing your journey to lifelong sobriety.

In America today, we are facing a mental health crisis, and men are on the receiving end of the worst of it. Adherence to traditional masculine norms makes some men feel like they can’t seek the treatment they need for their mental health. Unfortunately, men are significantly more likely to develop a host of mental health concerns, from autism spectrum disorders and ADHD to personality and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. You may have been diagnosed with one of these disorders when you received your diagnosis for substance use. There is no shame in seeking to better your health. Call Renaissance Ranch today at (801) 308-8898 and make your well-being a part of your lifelong sobriety.