Friends sitting in a park

More than one in four men will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.[1]

Though men and women face similar mental health challenges, men are less likely to connect with a professional.[2]

Despite evolving expectations, unhealthy traditional masculine norms emphasizing dominance, strength, and stoicism still impact men’s lives. Phrases like “man up”, “toughen up”, “suck it up”, and “be strong” have been ingrained since childhood, limiting men’s experience and ability to share negative emotions.

These unhealthy social norms worsen mental health issues by fostering persistent fears of appearing weak, increased shame and stigma, low mental health literacy, difficulty expressing emotions, self-isolating behaviors, and low rates of getting help.

In a society still influenced by the archetype of the strong, stoic man, men’s mental health often takes a back seat. Yet, alarming statistics reveal men’s mental health needs much more attention. For example:

  • Men account for about 7 out of 10 suicides globally.[3]
  • Suicide is the first or second leading cause of death for men under 50 in Canada, the US, and the UK.[4,5,6]

Although suicide in men has recently gained long overdue public recognition, it is only one part of the much large landscape within men’s mental health.

Enhancing men’s mental well-being not only fosters positive transformations within themselves but also radiates beneficial effects throughout their families, friendships, and communities. It also contributes to heightened workplace productivity and reduces aggressive or harmful behaviors.

This article looks at the most common mental health challenges and stressors men face.


Beyond the challenges themselves men may also turn to substances as a way to cope with stress, societal expectations, or unresolved mental health issues. This can be particularly pronounced during life transitions, such challenges of young adulthood, mid-life crisis, and retirement.

Here are some of the most common challenges men face, roughly in order from most to least common. (Challenges can also coexist with others or twist into negative feedback loops that reinforce unhealthy behaviours).

Please note the statistics cited below are only approximations and figures can vary widely within different populations (for example by location, occupation, culture, social circles, etc.)


Anxiety in men manifests in various forms: from worry to paralyzing fear. Untreated anxiety jeopardizes mental well-being, relationships, and overall quality of life.


In the US, Approximately 14% of men will experience anxiety at some point in their lives.[7]


Depression in men encompasses a spectrum from persistent sadness to life-altering despair. Early onset symptoms for men include irritability and aggression, physical pain, risk taking/recklessness, and substance abuse (alcohol, drugs). Untreated depression is the leading risk factor for suicide.[8,9]

Approximately 9% of men had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.[10]

Anger and Irritability

Though anger disorders are not typically classified as standalone mental health disorders, difficulties with managing anger can also overlap with and mask other mental health issues, like anxiety and depression.

For some men anger is the only negative emotion they feel comfortable showing.

Substance Abuse Disorders

Men often grapple with substance abuse, using alcohol or drugs to cope with stress and mental health challenges.

Approximately 10% of men had a substance abuse disorder in the last year.[11]

Work-Related Stress and Burnout

The prevalence of work-related stress and burnout can vary, and specific percentages may depend on factors such as geographical location, industries, and individual circumstances.

Approximately 20% of Canadian men experience high or very-high levels of work related stress.[12]

Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Although ADHD is underdiagnosed in women, it is still more common in men.

Approximately 5% of adult men have been diagnosed with ADHD, and the prevalence in adults is lower.[13]

It is also a risk factor for depression.[14]

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Data from the last 30 years shows that approximately 20-30% of male US military veterans have been affected by PTSD at some point in their lives.[15]

In US civilian populations approximately 3-5%, of men are affected by PTSD (events leading to PTSD include, but are not limited to, accidents, survivors of interpersonal violence, or natural disasters).[16]

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder manifests in unpredictable mood swings, ranging from extreme highs (mania or hypomania, lasting at least 1 week long) to extreme lows (depressive episodes that last at least 2 weeks long).[17]

Approximately 3% of men have bipolar disorder. Though men and women may be affected equally, men may be less frequently diagnosed.[18]

Personality Disorders

These conditions involve patterns of behavior that can strain men’s relationships, hinder personal growth, and even lead to unlawful activities, causing harm to themselves and those around them.

Approximately 3% of men are affected by Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD).[19] Approximately 60% of individuals diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) are men.[20]

Behavioural Addictions


Men can face various addictive behaviors from workaholism to addictions with pornography, gaming, compulsive shopping to gambling.

Approximately 1% to 10% or higher, depending on the specific behavior and population.[21,22,23,24,25]

Body Image Issues and Eating Disorders

Men grapple with body image issues, ranging from dissatisfaction to disorders like anorexia, binge eating, or body image dysmorphia.

These may cause persistent and intense shame and anxiety over perceived body defects, including the desire for a muscular and lean physique (fueled by masculine ideas).

Concerns about height, hair loss, penis size, and aging may also contribute to body dissatisfaction.

Approximately 25% of individuals with anorexia or bulimia and 36% of those with binge-eating disorder are male.[26]

Approximately 2% of men are affected by body image dysmorphia.[27]

Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is characterized by the presence of unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) that significantly interfere with daily functioning.

Approximately 1% of men are affected by OCD.[28]

Overlapping Stressors in Men

Beyond the issues above, the following stressors can also contribute to reducing men’s mental health.

Based on frequency of selection in our Stress Test the top five most common stressors are:

  • Lack of purpose or meaning in life
  • Loneliness
  • Relationship problems with spouse/romantic partner
  • Difficulties at work
  • Finance Strain

Other important stressors for men include:

  • Fatherhood and Parental Pressure:
  • Sexual Health and Dysfunction:
  • Bullying (in the workplace or school)
  • LGBTQ2S+ Specific Mental Health Concerns
  • Retirement
  • Other Health Issues (cardiovascular diseases, prostate and testicular cancers, and diabetes)

Navigating the maze of men’s mental health requires understanding of the multifaceted challenges men face. Recognizing the interplay of societal expectations, traditional gender norms, and individual struggles is essential for developing comprehensive strategies that promote mental well-being.

By openly discussing and addressing common mental health issues affecting men, we pave the way for breaking the silence surrounding men’s mental health.

Through conversation, compassion, and commitment to supporting men’s mental health, we can each make a positive difference, and collectively move towards a future where men’s mental health is not just a conversation but a priority.

Next Step:


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