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Navigating Men’s Mental Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores men’s unique challenges regarding mental health and provides tips for maintaining mental wellness in light of Men’s Health Month.

In a world where strength and stoicism are often seen as the hallmarks of masculinity, men’s mental health can sometimes be overlooked. However, like physical health, mental health is essential for overall well-being.

The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) underscores the urgency for men to break their silence before it’s too late. This, after recent revelations highlighted men face a higher risk of suicide compared to women,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“According to SASOP, in South Africa, the rate of suicide is alarmingly high, ranking 10th globally. Of the 13,774 reported suicides, 10,861 were men, translating to a rate of 37.6 per 100,000, compared to 2,913 women at a rate of 9.8 per 100,000.”

Common Mental Health Issues in Men

While there are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness, a few common conditions men suffer from include:

Depression: While it’s often thought of as a condition that primarily affects women, depression is just as prevalent among men. However, men may display symptoms differently, such as increased irritability, anger, and even aggression, rather than the more typical signs of persistent sadness.

Anxiety: Men may experience anxiety related to various aspects of their lives, including work, relationships, financial pressures, and societal expectations. This anxiety can manifest physically through symptoms like muscle tension, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating, impacting their overall well-being.

Substance Abuse: Coping with stress, depression, or other mental health challenges, men may turn to substance abuse as a means of self-medication. However, this only exacerbates underlying mental health issues and can lead to a harmful cycle of dependency, further complicating their overall mental and physical health.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Men, particularly those in high-stress occupations such as military personnel, first responders, and healthcare workers, may develop PTSD after experiencing traumatic events. Symptoms can include flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance of triggering stimuli.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterised by intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours or mental rituals (compulsions) performed to alleviate distress. OCD can impact daily functioning and quality of life if left untreated.

Bipolar Disorder: Men are equally susceptible to bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterised by episodes of mania (elevated mood, increased energy) and depression. These mood swings can be severe and interfere with relationships, work, and daily activities.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): While often associated with children, ADHD can persist into adulthood and affect men’s ability to focus, organise tasks, and control impulses. ADHD can lead to difficulties in work, relationships, and overall functioning if not effectively managed.

Challenges in Seeking Help

Even though men are more likely than women to have mental health problems, getting treatment might be difficult for several reasons:


Many men are hesitant to seek help for mental health concerns due to concerns about societal perceptions. The prevailing notion that seeking assistance indicates weakness can create barriers for men to open up about their struggles.


Boys are often taught to suppress their emotions from a young age. As a result, men may struggle to recognise or express their feelings, making it difficult to seek help when needed.

Lack of Awareness

Some men may not recognise the signs of mental illness or understand the importance of seeking help. Greater awareness and education about mental health can help address this barrier.

Strategies for Promoting Mental Wellness

Here are a few tips to help improve mental health in men:

Open Communication

Encourage open discussions regarding emotions and mental health. Men should know that it is OK to ask for help.

Healthy Lifestyle

Regular exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques can all contribute to better mental health.

Prioritise Social Connections and Hobbies

Social connections are essential for mental well-being. Encourage men to maintain friendships and engage in hobbies they enjoy.

Seeking Professional Help

If mental health issues continue or interfere with everyday living, urge men to see a therapist, counsellor, or mental health professional.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation can help reduce stress, improve mood, and promote overall mental well-being.

Improve Personal Hygiene

Personal hygiene is a practice that includes bathing and washing your hands and ensures you care for your body. It can help keep your children clean, remain healthy, and make them feel good about themselves. When children are clean and well-groomed, they often feel more confident and have higher self-esteem. Most importantly, it’s an excellent way to reduce the risk of germs leading to exposure to various illnesses.

The consequences of poor hygiene, such as body odour, can be more than just social discomfort. They can signal underlying health conditions, often triggered by a combination of germs and sweat. Establishing a personal hygiene routine is necessary in teaching your children to develop better habits. Consider setting reminders to ensure it becomes a priority in their everyday activities, fostering a sense of concern and attentiveness towards their health.


Men’s mental health is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of overall well-being. By recognising men’s unique challenges, promoting open communication, and encouraging healthy coping strategies, we can support men in prioritising their mental wellness. Everyone deserves support and compassion on their journey to better mental health.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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