From childhood, boys are told to be strong, as if nothing can make them feel sad, as if they cannot cry or feel hurt. Contrary to this belief, strong men are usually the ones who are able to cry.
The stigma and fear related to mental illness has hurt boys more than men over the last decade or so. Depression and suicide are ranked as the leading cause of death among men, but treatment for men has been far less than women which adds to this tragedy. Boys do not seek help and if they do, they come at a terminal stage which makes recovery difficult.
A lot of boys tend to see depression as a sign of personal weakness. They think they will be laughed at by peers, they might not be promoted in their jobs, will be mocked by his spouse and the fear goes on and on.
Men have to understand that mental illness is just like diabetes or any other physical condition. We also need to help anyone whom we see have recent changes in behaviour, thought process and mood. If men are less willing to ask for help, they will continue to experience the symptoms contributing to depression. So, my suggestion for men - help is available, please seek it timely and be your own best friend.
The author is the Lead Consultant Psychiatrist and Managing Director of LifeSpring Limited, a community-based mental health institute. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org