Men's mental health: A silent crisis

November 1, 2023

The topic of mental health has long been seen as taboo. While society has become more open and honest about mental health, even ten years ago, it would have seemed out of place to talk about. And while we’ve made strides, men’s mental health is often ignored.

Let’s look at this silent crisis, explore what mental health concerns men should be aware of, and dig into six resources designed specifically for men’s mental health.

What is the “silent crisis” in men’s mental health?

In 2023, 17% of Canadian men aged 15 and older said they have fair or poor mental health.

But sadly, many of these men are suffering in silence. In Canada, only 30% of people who use mental health services are men. Everyone has reasons for seeking help, but the staggering number of men who seem to avoid it can be attributed to societal factors.

Historically, men were expected to be seen as strong and able to handle anything. The notion of masculinity not being compatible with feelings and emotions causes some men to think they can’t suffer from mental health issues. Instead, they take on a “tough it out” mentality and sweep their feelings under the rug.

These mentalities have created a stigma against discussing mental health and seeking treatment when needed. But the reality is that just because you ignore something doesn’t mean it will go away. And men across the globe are suffering from mental health issues.

What mental health issues are affecting men?

There are a wide variety of mental health issues that are affecting men. Here are some mental health issues and how they affect Canadian men:

- Depression is one of the most well-known forms of mental illness. It is characterized by a depressed mood or losing interest in activities for long periods. Depression differs from regular mood changes and can affect all aspects of life. According to the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation, approximately one million men across Canada suffer from major depression each year.

- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), commonly called anxiety, is a mental condition that causes excessive or unrealistic anxiety about two or more aspects of your life. This includes work, social relationships, familial issues, financial matters, etc. In Canada, 9.9% of men experience generalized anxiety disorder.

- Stress is something that many of us take for granted as a part of our typical day. And while stress is a normal human response, experiencing extreme stress regularly can have a negative impact on your mental health. Eighteen percent of Canadian men are experiencing extreme stress regularly.

- Burnout is another stress-related mental health condition that affects 84% of Canadian workers. Burnout is a result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, and in 2019, WHO added it to the International Classification of Diseases.

When looking at the suicide rates in Canada, it’s easy to see the impact of ignoring men’s mental health issues. Four of every five suicides in Canada are male, and more than 50 Canadian men die by suicide each week.   

Signs of mental health issues to look out for 

Whether you’re concerned for yourself or someone you love, it’s essential to know the warning signs of mental health disorders to react—and get help—quickly.

​​​​​Here are some of the signs of mental health issues you can look for in the men you’re close to:

  • Changes in sleep patterns 
  • Changes in mood, including anger, sadness, or irritability 
  • Headaches
  • Unusual or out-of-character behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Withdrawal from their usual routine
  • Increased dependence on drugs or alcohol
  • Sudden weight gain or loss

Six resources on men’s mental health

If you need mental health support in Canada, these resources can help you seek help and information.

1. The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation

The Canadian Men’s Health Foundation is a national charity that provides tools and motivation to help men live happier, healthier lives. While they cover all topics on men’s health, they dedicate much of their efforts to supporting men’s mental health. 

2. HeadsUpGuys 

HeadsUpGuys is a depression resource that provides men with information and practical tips to prevent the negative effects of poor mental health for men around the globe. It’s designed for men and is anonymous to encourage more men to participate. 

3. Buddy Up

Buddy Up is a men’s suicide prevention campaign that calls on men to speak more openly and honestly about their mental health. The goal is to drive authentic conversations between men and their buddies to help prevent suicide.  

4. Movember

One of the first well-known initiatives to support men’s mental health, Movember, looks at mental health through a male lens, focusing on prevention, early intervention, and health promotion. They run a global fundraiser every November to help support men’s mental health.  

5. DUDES Club 

DUDES Club is a participant-led community for men’s health and wellness across British Columbia. 

6. Mental health through the decades 

Here at Manulife, we’ve put together resources to help you understand the different mental health conditions that can affect you throughout the decades. Whether in your 20s, 60s or somewhere in between, we want to ensure you keep your mental health in check. So we’re giving you the tools to stay on top of it. 

If you have concerns about your mental well-being—or the mental well-being of someone you love—contact a doctor and ask for an evaluation.  

And if you are looking for more resources, please reach out to any of the following organizations: 

Kids Help Phone 
Text Services: Text "CONNECT" to 686868 (also serving adults) 
Chat Services:

Crisis Services Canada 
Toll Free (24/7): 1 (833) 456-4566 
Text support (4pm-12am ET daily): 45645 

Canadian Crisis Hotline 
1 (888) 353-2273 

The LifeLine App

Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.

Other resources you may be interested in: 

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