equal mental health support for all genders

Dr. Bitner on Fox 17: Healthy Communities are Built on Equal Mental Health Support

This week on Fox 17, Dr. Bitner discusses the importance of mental health support for both men and women. Our health is often impacted by those around us. She emphasizes that truly healthy communities can only be created through equal access to mental health support and the normalization of conditions, including anxiety and depression.

Fact #1:

Both men and women experience anxiety and depression. Men, however, tend to express symptoms physically. The distinct male-type of anxiety is characterized by physical symptoms (i.e., body pains, panic attacks, and headaches), chronic recurrence of symptoms, and enduring out-of-control anxious sensations. Men are also more likely to act on thoughts of self-harm.

Fact #2:

Men tend not to receive help for their anxiety and depression because of masculine social norms and tend to leave treatment more quickly than women. Men are also less likely to talk about their feelings and more likely to experience shame about experiencing anxiety and depression. For men to get help, it is important to normalize conditions of anxiety and depression in both men and women.

Patient Story:

Jane’s* husband was recently downsized from his job. Even though this was not his fault, he felt a lot of shame about the situation. Jane’s husband was also afraid of not being able to provide for his family. As a result, Jane’s husband became irritable, experienced frequent headaches, didn’t want to get out of bed, and was yelling at his family. Jane was at a loss as to how to help him.

After seeking advice from friends and family, Jane found a volunteer opportunity for her husband within a church group. The group helped other men to find jobs after job loss. Within this group, struggling after job loss was normal, and Jane’s husband found a community he could relate to and the support he needed. Through new connections, he eventually found a new job that he loved! 

Health Tip of the Week

Community, conversation, and psychological support are truly game changers when it comes to managing physical, emotional, or mental health struggles. Regardless of gender, if you have feelings of anxiety and depression, please know that it is critical to get help so you can find options to feel better. We have to normalize the conversation around mental health. Everyone deserves equal mental health support from their doctors and community.  

The symptoms of anxiety and depression are common. If left untreated, can lead to loss of success in relationships, work, and quality of life. You are not alone, and you do not have to suffer in silence! If you are having symptoms of anxiety or depression, do not feel ashamed to ask for help. A great resource to start with is I Understand Love Heals, an organization that is dedicated to erasing the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. 

If you think others are better off without you, know this is a temporary feeling and, most importantly, that it is NOT true. If you have thoughts of self-harm, call 988 and get immediate help from mental health professionals with the Lifeline network. 

Watch the full segment.