People of all genders, ages, and origins are impacted by the stigma around mental health. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are frequently not treated as seriously as physical illnesses due to this complicated and pervasive stigma. Mental health issues have long been stigmatized, which has mostly resulted from a lack of awareness of these diseases. For men, this stigma is prone to be more severe and convoluted.

One underlying cause of this issue is our society’s toxic masculinity tendencies. Some males may have a tendency to torture themselves on the inside in order to appear tough on the outside. This is typically done in order to avoid appearing “weak,” which is a quality our culture devalues mostly in men. 

Males often struggle to feel safe enough to reach out and get help for their depression, anxiety, and other problems because they are afraid of being judged and rejected. As a result, men in Canada are three times more likely than women to commit suicide. Men may find it more difficult to get mental health help before they commit suicide, which could be one explanation for this phenomena.

We must keep fighting these stigmas if we want to reverse this imbalance. As a society, we must change the way we think about mental health for people of all sexes. The need for mental health support must be normalized, and all people need to have access to these services. It’s important to understand that, regardless of our age, gender, backgrounds, or other characteristics, mental health issues are unquestionably genuine difficulties that can be incapacitating for anyone suffering them.

If you are a male experiencing mental health struggles, know that you do not have to do it all by yourself. Help is available, and being vulnerable and seeking it is a sign of courage. 

Sara Gharibi, MPsy, RP is a registered psychotherapist at Centre For Interpersonal Relationships. She provides trauma-informed psychotherapy with a focus on mental health of adults who experience social anxiety, generalized anxiety, burn out, depression, and other mental health difficulties as well. Sara provides psychotherapy in English, French, and Farsi.  

Stigma in Mental Health

by: Natalie Guenette, M.A.

Stigma is a negative judgment and stereotype that brings people to feel ashamed, dismissed and dehumanized. People can be stigmatized by family, friends, colleagues, in social media, and sometimes even by health professionals. It changes how people see and feel about themselves, but also how other people see them. People living with mental health and substance use issues can be profoundly affected by stigma. They can isolate themselves for fear of being judged, which can bring them to have low peer support. It can prevent people from disclosing a mental health diagnosis and increase suicide risk.

Stigma is one of the greatest barriers to help-seeking and treatment, which can delay diagnoses and treatment options for people affected by stigma, however, there are ways to change this.

  1. Educate yourself and others around you by asking questions and doing research: you can visit for informative resources;
  2. Be mindful of the language you use to talk about mental health and substance use (i.e. non-judgmental, inclusive and respectful language);
  3. Be aware of your attitudes and opinions: upbringing and society can influence your views on mental health and substance use; and
  4. Speak up when you hear or see something that is stigmatizing: people do not always realize the impact they have on others and it is sometimes a question of not knowing all the facts about certain topics.

Clinicians at CFIR provide evidence-based treatments to individuals from an array of backgrounds based on their needs and personal differences. We continue to stay informed about leading-edge research related to the presenting issues of the clients who come to our offices.

Natalie Guenette, M.A., is a counsellor at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Ottawa. She employs treatments that include aspects from Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, Mindfulness-based Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Psychodynamic Theory, and she has an interest in working with adults experiencing a diversity of psychological and relationship issues. Natalie is currently completing a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University. At CFIR, she is under the supervision of Dr. Karine Côté, C.Psych.


Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). Stigma and Discrimination. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (n.d.). Addressing Stigma. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].

Knaak, S., Mantler, E., & Szeto, A. (2017). Mental illness-related stigma in healthcare: Barriers to access and care and evidence-based solutions. Healthcare management forum, 30(2), 111–116. doi:10.1177/0840470416679413

Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2019). Stigma and Discrimination. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Nov. 2019].