Westward Independent

Men’s Mental Health Month: Silenced Crises Amidst the Noise

by Westward Independent
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With June being Men’s Mental Health Month, we look to highlight the severe crises that do not seem to get much airtime or exposure on mainstream news.

‘US stats: n 2022, men died by suicide 3.85 times more than women. White males accounted for 68.46% of suicide deaths in 2022.’ 

Canadian-born Population: Overlooked and Under Strain: A nuanced aspect of the mental health landscape involves Canadian-born individuals, often of European descent. This group is frequently excluded from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) initiatives and labelled as colonizers from a young age in schools. They are often told they are the one group not allowed to complain, adding a layer of mental health strain. A study published in PubMed examined suicide mortality rates and trends in Canada, revealing that Canadian-born males have higher age-standardized mortality rates (ASMR) than first-generation immigrant males. Additionally, three times as many Canadian-born men as women commit suicide, highlighting the unique mental health challenges faced by this demographic.

Opioid Crisis: A Disproportionate Toll: The opioid crisis and mental health challenges continue to ravage Canada, hitting certain groups harder than others. Regions such as British Columbia (B.C.), Alberta, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon have been particularly affected. The opioid crisis has disproportionately impacted First Nations communities. In Alberta and B.C., First Nations individuals are up to five times more likely to experience an opioid-related overdose and three times more likely to die from it compared to non-First Nations individuals. However, data limitations hinder our full understanding of the crisis, especially regarding unintentional versus intentional overdoses. Many opioid-related deaths classified as accidental might actually be suicides, underestimated due to the reliance on human judgment to determine intent.

Employment and Men’s Mental Health: Work conditions play a crucial role in men’s mental health. Research indicates that men who report low job control, job insecurity, and unfair pay are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts. For many men, employment is not just a job but a source of identity, structure, and purpose. When faced with unemployment or unfulfilling work, this sense of identity and worth can erode, increasing the risk of depression and suicide.  

Homelessness: A Critical Risk Factor: Homelessness and precarious housing are significant risk factors for suicidality. A recent meta-analysis reported that among people experiencing homelessness, 17.8% had current suicidal ideation, with 41.6% having experienced it at some point in their lives. Similarly, 9.2% had attempted suicide recently, with 28.8% having done so at some point. In Toronto, a review of coroner records revealed that 60 of the 3,319 suicide deaths between 1998 and 2012 involved homeless individuals, with men constituting 83% of these deaths. The instability and insecurity of temporary homelessness further exacerbate these risks.

Military Personnel and Manual Laborers at High Risk: Mental health challenges are also prevalent among military personnel and certain occupational groups. Military personnel are 1.3 to 1.7 times more likely to report suicidal thoughts and plans compared to civilians. Similarly, men in manual labour sectors, such as construction and farming, face high suicide rates due to economic uncertainty, mental health stigma, social isolation, increased alcohol consumption, and poor working conditions.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Amplifying Mental Health Issues: The COVID-19 pandemic has further strained mental health across the country. National surveys reveal that job loss and financial worries have led to a deterioration in mental health and increased binge drinking. As of April 2020, 14.6% of men had lost their jobs, with a higher proportion of these losses being full-time positions compared to women. The public health measures, including stay-at-home orders and business closures, significantly reduced social integration, increasing feelings of isolation, loneliness, and relationship breakdowns—key risk factors for suicide.

Sources: “Mental Health Commission of Canada, various studies on mental health and suicidality and Canadian suicide mortality rates” and: “First-generation immigrants versus Canadian-born: J Strachan 1, H Johansen, C Nair, M Nargundkar; PMID: 1713798



Resources to help men in your life

Local: Cowichan Lodge Tertiary Mental Health Facility: This facility provides care for individuals experiencing severe and hard-to-treat mental health and neurocognitive challenges. They have an adult unit (27-bed) and a seniors unit (24-bed) managed by Island Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use program.

Cowichan Valley Mental Health & Substance Use: The Rapid Access Clinic (RAC) in Duncan offers a walk-in clinic for adults, providing one crisis counselling session with a mental health and substance use clinician (non-psychiatry) and information and referrals for connecting with the most appropriate service.

The Sheds – Cowichan Brain Injury Society: This organization champions the Men’s Shed movement, promoting camaraderie, creativity, and inclusivity among men and women. They provide a safe space for men to share experiences and connect with others.

Global: https://www.buddyup.ca – Buddy Up is a men’s suicide prevention communications campaign: a call to action to men, by men.; 

https://headsupguys.org/ – The World’s leading men’s mental health resource.

https://mantherapy.org/ – “What began as a suicide prevention campaign has morphed into a men’s mental health campaign where the goal is to support all men before they are ever in crisis” – The testimonial page has pages and pages of amazing videos from men touching on topics from addiction to bipolar. 


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