Men’s Mental Health – Rural Mental Health Perceptions

News November 2021

Men’s Mental Health – Rural Mental Health Perceptions

Stigma is a negative attitude or disapproval of a person experiencing mental health concerns. Mental health stigma is more common in rural areas, as sometimes symptoms of mental illness amongst men can be perceived as having a weak character. Research shows that in conversations with rural men, many feel that they should be ‘tough enough’ to fix problems on their own, that they may lose authority with others and that showing vulnerability is not ‘normal’. Rural males are less likely to seek help and instead use unhealthy coping strategies such as drug and alcohol use to cope with stress. Rural stigma has an everlasting effect, men are more likely to experience poorer mental health outcomes.

Rural stigma is long standing and has been present for many generations, we need to eliminate stigma and the change starts with you. The first step to ending stigma is to reflect on your idea of what help-seeking is. Changing the way we think about help-seeking is important, stigma often comes from; our own unconscious biases, the way we have been brought up, or because individually we do not feel deserving or support. Ask yourself:

–          Do I struggle to ask for help?

–          What do I do to cope with stress?

–          Where have my ideas around mental health come from?

–          Is there someone in my life I need to check on?

No-one is immune to stress, and talking about our worries builds connection and empathy. It is important to see that asking for help is not a sign of vulnerability, but of strength. If you acknowledged that you may need help Centacare will meet you with transparency, care and non-judgment. Ending rural stigma starts with you.