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Men’s Mental Health Disparities

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JAMA

News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Nearly 9% of men feel anxious or depressed on a daily basis, but fewer than half take medication or seek help from a mental health professional, according to 2010-2013 data from the CDC’s National Health Interview Survey.

During in-person surveys of more than 21 000 men, 9% of white men told CDC investigators they felt anxious or depressed every day compared with 7.3% of black and Hispanic men. Depression and anxiety were more prevalent in men 45 years and older (9.4%) than in younger men (7.6%), largely because of racial and ethnic differences: younger black and Hispanic men were 30% less likely than their white counterparts to report daily depression (Blumberg SJ et al. NCHS Data Brief. 2015;[206]:1-8).

About 6% of black and Hispanic men aged 18 to 44 years said they had daily symptoms of depression and anxiety compared with 8.5% of white men, contradicting other studies that show higher psychological distress among minorities. One possible reason for the discrepancy is that the survey assessed frequency rather than intensity of feelings, the investigators wrote.

One-third of depressed or anxious men took medication for their symptoms, and one-quarter talked to a mental health professional. Only in younger uninsured men was there a significant racial or ethnic difference in using mental health services; 39.3% of white men aged 18 to 44 years received mental health therapy compared with 12.7% of young black and Hispanic men. The disparity was considerably lower among men with health insurance: 48.4% of insured white men compared with 38.7% of black and Hispanic men with insurance received treatment.

One possible explanation for lower treatment rates among young black and Hispanic men was noted during focus groups. These men were most likely to perceive mental illness and treatment as a sign of weakness and cause for shame, the authors noted. Health insurance, however, appears to mitigate racial and ethnic disparities in receiving treatment for depression or anxiety.

read more at JAMA

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