A group of mental health professionals led by the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus and Men’s Health Network are calling for greater awareness and action to address systemic issues facing men and boy’s mental health in the midst of the ongoing national opioid crisis. The group converged with legislative staff this week on Capitol Hill for a congressional briefing on how opioids are used as getaways from mental health issues for men and boys.
Congressman Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ), co-sponsor of the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus, delivered opening remarks focusing on the obstacles facing men and boys who confront opioid addiction and mental health disparities.
“We’re really in the midst of an opioid crisis in this country,” said Payne Jr. “Studies have shown that there is an under-reporting of men’s mental health [issues]. Too many of our young boys are suffering in silence—let’s end the stigma.”
Anxiety, fear, delinquency, under-diagnosed depression, PTSD, suicide: All conditions that are associated with boys and men across their lifespan. “Just like any other group in this country, more needs to be done to improve family and social structures to ensure the mental and emotional wellness of men and boys,” said Ana Fadich, Vice President of Men’s Health Network. “Substance abuse through alcohol and opioids are providing getaways from anxiety and depression for many of our boys and men who often lack social networks, equity in access to healthcare, and face cultural stigmas in seeking help for mental illness.”
Males are more likely than females to die of an overdose from illicit opioids, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. While males are diagnosed with depression less often than women, they have higher rates of suicide completion. “Boys and men in our nation are in crisis … [and] face a widening empathy gap,” said Wizdom Powell, PhD Director, Health Disparities Institute, University of Connecticut.
“Men have a more difficult time detecting and labeling emotions. Men tend to report less risk of depression yet have higher risks.” Powell outlined several policy and community-level recommendations to combat these issues including expanding programs that can assist boys and men who are re-entering communities from prison or jails, expanding behavioral health care access, provide training to psychologists and other healthcare providers working with racial, ethnic, and sexual minority males. For more on individual speaker presentations, click the links below.
Eric Murphy PhD
Wizdom Powell PhD, MPH, MS
Gregory Tau MD, PhD
Nathaniel Counts, JD
Men's Health Network (MHN) is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to reach men, boys, and their families where they live, work, play, and pray with health awareness messages and tools, screening programs, educational materials, advocacy opportunities, and patient navigation. Learn more about MHN at www.menshealthnetwork.org and follow them on Twitter @MensHlthNetwork or Facebook at www.facebook.com/menshealthnetwork.
Established in 2007, the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus strives to set a healthier standard of living for all men and boys. The Caucus promotes awareness of health issues specific to males, advocates for health prevention such as cancer screenings, and promotes legislation that will improve the health of men.
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