Extensive research examines gender differences in mental health. Many researchers take for granted that men’s mental health can be explained in the same terms as women’s or can be gauged using the same measures. A singular focus on women unintentionally led to a neglect of men with stereotypically feminine disorders (e.g., depression and anxiety as well as a poor understanding of stereotypically masculine symptoms such as substance abuse and violence. This article assesses the extant research as a starting point for further investigation of men’s mental health.
Many researchers take for granted that men’s mental health can be explained in the same terms as women’s or can be gauged using the same measures. Women tend to have higher rates of internalizing disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety), while men experience more externalizing symptoms (i.e., violence, substance abuse). These patterns are often attributed to gender differences in socialization (including the acquisition of expectations associated with traditional gender roles), help seeking, coping, and socioeconomic status. However, measurement bias (inadequate survey assessment of men’s experiences) and clinician bias (practitioner’s subconscious tendency to overlook male distress) may lead to underestimates of the prevalence of depression and anxiety among men. Continuing to focus on gender differences in mental health may obscure significant within-gender group differences in men’s symptomatology. In order to better understand men’s lived experiences and their psychological well-being, it is crucial for scholars to focus exclusively on men’s mental health.
Dena T. Smith, Dawne M. Mouzon, and Marta Elliott2
Reviewing the Assumptions About Men’s Mental Health: An Exploration of the Gender Binary
Am J Mens Health 1557988316630953, first published on February 10, 2016 doi:10.1177/1557988316630953