In July and August of 2020, the Cleveland Clinic’s MENtion It program surveyed 1,180 men, ages 18 and older, on how COVID has affected men’s mental and physical health. The study focuses on the effect of COVID on the current health of men and how men are coping with the changes.
The study found that many men failed or refused to report that COVID has had a significant impact on their lives. While many experts have acknowledged that men typically avoid seeking treatment for mental and physical health issues, this study showed significant increases in stress and isolation for participants. This study revealed that 77 percent of the participants felt increased stress, almost 60 percent felt isolated, and 45 percent experienced a mental and/or physical health decline from COVID.
The study noted that men reported not seeing a doctor for non-COVID health issues during the pandemic, just under 50 percent of men are struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and almost 25 percent of men reported weight gain in the past year. Data from this MENtion It survey revealed that 59 percent of men reported a greater negative impact from COVID than the 2008 economic recession.
Dr. Peter Bajic, a physician associated with the Cleveland Clinic survey, notes that men are “not great about going to the doctor,” and physicians need to stress to men that taking care of themselves is important. Many men see depression and anxiety as weakness, and by seeking mental or physical health treatment, they are vulnerable or weak. Dr. Michael Young, a physician at The Retreat of Sheppard Pratt in Baltimore, Maryland, says that men should view seeking help as a sign of strength, and men should be encouraged to seek the help they need.
During the COVID pandemic, men should be encouraged to seek healthier lifestyles by getting outdoors, spending time with family and children, learning a new hobby, engaging in healthier eating habits, getting more sleep, and increasing exercise. We all need to expand our social ties through the use of social media or video apps like Zoom and FaceTime to feel less isolated. It is important to avoid alcohol or other stimulants when you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or increased stress as these substances can increase negative feelings and can lead to greater financial instability at a time when many men are out of work.
If you feel that you are experiencing a mental health crisis, the Family Service of the Piedmont crisis line is 336-273-7273. For more information on Family Service of the Piedmont and their services click on the link above. If you feel that you could hurt yourself or someone else due to a mental health emergency, call 911 immediately, go to the closest emergency room, or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255. Don’t succumb to a feeling that you are alone; there are many resources available in every community.