June is ded­i­cat­ed to rais­ing aware­ness about men’s men­tal health issues, with June 10–16 des­ig­nat­ed as Inter­na­tion­al Men’s Men­tal Health Week. This month is ded­i­cat­ed to rais­ing aware­ness and encour­ag­ing men to seek help when need­ed.


1 out of 4 per­sons who seek health­care in Kenya suf­fer from a men­tal health con­di­tion such as depres­sion, sub­stance abuse, stress, and anx­i­ety dis­or­der. How­ev­er, men reg­is­ter low­er men­tal health treat­ment rates. Why do men typ­i­cal­ly under­uti­lize men­tal health ser­vices com­pared to women?

Our under­stand­ing of men­tal health and how it impacts all aspects of our lives is con­stant­ly evolv­ing. Men­tal health is more than just the absence of men­tal dis­or­ders. It exists on a com­plex con­tin­u­um, expe­ri­enced dif­fer­ent­ly by each per­son. Being a com­plex inter­play of indi­vid­ual, social, and struc­tur­al fac­tors, It influ­ences deci­sion-mak­ing, rela­tion­ships, and over­all well-being.

With this under­stand­ing, why are men still less like­ly than women to seek men­tal health ser­vices? One fac­tor could be that males are less fre­quent­ly referred for such ser­vices. Addi­tion­al­ly, seek­ing help can be seen as defy­ing tra­di­tion­al male gen­der norms around not dis­cussing emo­tion­al con­cerns with oth­ers; thus, friends and fam­i­ly may hes­i­tate to rec­om­mend men­tal health care to men for this rea­son.

The stig­ma sur­round­ing men’s men­tal ill­ness has far-reach­ing and detri­men­tal effects. It dis­cour­ages treat­ment and help-seek­ing due to fears around dis­clo­sure, social iso­la­tion, and finan­cial strain. Although a rel­a­tive­ly new area of study, the lived expe­ri­ences of men fac­ing men­tal ill­ness stig­ma are impor­tant to under­stand, espe­cial­ly giv­en that men are over twice as like­ly as women to die by sui­cide glob­al­ly.

The men in your life need you…

Despite hav­ing high­er rates of sui­cide, men report low­er rates of depres­sion than women. This dis­con­nect is part­ly dri­ven by stig­ma, which pre­vents men from get­ting ther­a­py, lim­its sup­port sys­tems and dis­cour­ages dis­cussing depres­sive symp­toms or sui­ci­dal thoughts. Many men deny or con­ceal men­tal ill­ness signs to avoid being brand­ed, reject­ed, shamed or avoid­ed, espe­cial­ly in pro­fes­sion­al set­tings. The fear of appear­ing weak by hav­ing a men­tal health con­di­tion con­trasts with soci­etal expec­ta­tions that men should be strong, sto­ic and inde­pen­dent — able to “tough things out.”

Self-iso­la­tion and emo­tion­al dis­tance are com­mon cop­ing mech­a­nisms employed by men to hide vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and evade social shame or bur­den­ing oth­ers. How­ev­er, this tac­tic cuts off poten­tial sup­port net­works, increas­ing sui­cide risk.

Some of the most preva­lent men­tal health con­di­tions affect­ing men include depres­sion, anx­i­ety dis­or­ders, post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der (PTSD), bipo­lar dis­or­der, and sub­stance abuse. Signs that may indi­cate a men­tal health issue include per­sis­tent sad­ness, exces­sive wor­ry­ing, social with­draw­al, sud­den mood swings, increased sub­stance use, and sui­ci­dal thoughts.

It’s cru­cial that men under­stand it’s okay to feel and express emo­tions, build mean­ing­ful con­nec­tions, embrace vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, and seek pro­fes­sion­al men­tal health treat­ment when need­ed. With more open con­ver­sa­tions and reduced stig­ma, more men can get the sup­port they need.

Intel­liSOFT Devel­op­ing Solu­tions For Men­tal Health­care

Since 2019, Intel­liSOFT has been active­ly involved in improv­ing access to men­tal health ser­vices through tech­nol­o­gy. We have worked on con­fig­ur­ing the Bahm­ni plat­form to sup­port the deliv­ery of men­tal health ser­vices via telemed­i­cine, with a focus on adapt­ing men­tal health patient work­flows. This mobile telepsy­chi­a­try project has enabled the cus­tomiza­tion of Bahm­ni to bet­ter fit and sup­port men­tal health patient needs through a vir­tu­al care mod­el. 

About the Author

Mer­cy Kamau is a skilled med­ical prac­ti­tion­er and busi­ness ana­lyst whose pas­sion lies in lever­ag­ing dig­i­tal health solu­tions to enhance patient care and dri­ve glob­al health­care equi­ty. With years of clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence backed by a Bach­e­lor’s degree in Clin­i­cal Med­i­cine, Mer­cy brings invalu­able exper­tise in diag­nos­ing and treat­ing var­i­ous con­di­tions with a com­pas­sion­ate, patient-cen­tric approach. How­ev­er, her true zeal shines through her deep inter­est in dig­i­tal health and opti­miz­ing health­care work­flows through inno­v­a­tive tech­nol­o­gy plat­forms. As a Busi­ness Ana­lyst at Intel­liSOFT, Mer­cy com­bines her med­ical acu­men with a data-dri­ven mind­set to ana­lyze tele­health insights, iden­ti­fy pat­terns, and devel­op pre­ven­tive strate­gies and per­son­al­ized care plans. Her goal is to col­lab­o­rate across dis­ci­plines to imple­ment and refine dig­i­tal health solu­tions that estab­lish resilient, sus­tain­able health­care sys­tems acces­si­ble to all.


Categories: World Health Days