About one in 10 American adults suffers from depression or anxiety. The fact that more than 10 percent of women have mental health issues is well known, but it turns out that men are suffering from anxiety and depression at only a slightly lower rate. However, like in other health issue areas, over half of men who have depression or anxiety issues spurn getting treatment for their mental health problems.
Nearly 9 percent of men acknowledge experiencing psychiatric problems daily, according to a recent nationwide poll, with whites having a higher rate than blacks or Hispanics. The National Health Interview Survey of over 21,000 men was conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) between 2010 and 2013. The results were published this week in the NCHS Data Brief.
The survey data shows that the racial differences drop once males are over 45 and the rates are fairly similar. For those who are older, 9.4 percent of white men and 9.2 percent of Hispanic and/or black males report having daily mental health symptoms.
It could be that the rates are actually similar and that younger males and minorities are less likely than whites or older men to admit to mental health symptoms. Some experts, however, believe the rates are lower for minorities at younger ages. The data also showed that those populations are less likely to seek professional help than whites or older men when they do report that they have a problem.
There are social and cultural pressures that the researchers believe differ for the different racial and age populations. The societal pressures that “include ideas about masculinity and the stigma of mental illness, may be more pronounced for men of color,” noted Stephen Blumberg, the report‘s lead author, who is an associate director for science with the NCHS. He suggested that that such pressures are why many mean, particularly of color, deny their feelings of depression or anxiety.
For all groups only 41 percent of those who admit to having problems seek professional help. Additionally, over 39 percent of those below the age of 45 told those conducting the survey that they had either taken medication or visited a mental health professional for daily anxiety or depression at some point in the previous year. This amount was on a par with the estimated 42 percent of older males who reported that they had done the same.
One theory the researchers have as to why so many men spurn mental health help is the lack of health insurance for those who are younger or minorities. The researchers said that having health insurance coverage that covered therapy or prescriptions helps reduce the stigma of admitting one needs help. However, the study was conducted prior to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It will be interesting to see if the requirement to have health insurance and the availability of mental health and drug benefits, which are in each ACA health plan, produce different results over time or if more than half of those men who suffer from depression or anxiety on a daily basis continue to spurn treatment..
By Dyanne Weiss
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Men’s Use of Mental Health Treatments
U.S. News & World Report: Many U.S. Men With Depression, Anxiety Don’t Get Treated, CDC Finds
UPI: CDC-Many men with depression, anxiety untreated