Why Should I Help Raise Awareness Around Men's Mental Health?

Why Should I Help Raise Awareness Around Men's Mental Health?

“Man up”

“Boys don't cry ” 

We often hear these statements thrown around in society, and the majority of us have grown up to the sound of them. Men are often stereotyped as stoic and self-reliant, and we may carelessly use these terms when, in actuality, they might be harmful to them.

Societal expectations and traditional gender roles often place males into certain predefined and fixated categories from which they find it difficult to escape. From Amitabh Bachan's famous phrase "mard ko dard nahi hota" to "Angry young guy," they all reinforce the same boundaries which are set for men. They are often expected to take positions of power, not display emotions, and being strong and violent is the image of an “ideal male” in society. Failure to do so may result in them being called numerous names and having a bad self-image. 

“I grew up thinking emotions were bad, I understood that emotions were appropriate for like two demographics the first of which was like schoolgirls and then the second one was womenfolk which I was neither of those things so I shouldn't have feelings and I began to push those away,” says Rob Wang in his Ted Talk Is Masculinity Killing Men. He recounts his own personal experience, “ but if you're anything like me then that also comes with this constellation of other behaviours so it might look like you also stop sleeping, you start eating poorly, you stop working out, you self-isolate, you get into more fights and maybe you start drinking some more” demonstrating the toxic effect masculinity can have on a man.

Toxic masculinity is used to describe the negative effects of exaggerated male traits and the pressure to conform to the societal ideas of a man. It forces them to not talk about their emotions, feel empathy or understand others, which are necessary at the time of crisis. Confirming these masculine ideas is often linked to poor mental health and men who conform to them are less likely to seek help, research shows. 

Despite the fact that women are more prone to suffer from mental illness, men commit suicide at a higher rate than women. Women are more emotionally sensitive than men, making it simpler for women to detect sadness earlier. Depression and suicide are known to be the leading cause of suicide among men.  Men often ignore their emotions, perhaps denying or hiding their emotions until it gets severe. "No homo" is a word used when guys appear to build connections with other men, finally resulting in them isolating themselves and being alone. Because depression symptoms can go longer without being tested or treated, the condition may lead to a deeper mental health problem. This could simply be because women often share their feelings, while men are told to “man up” and often keep it to themselves with the fear that they are going to be judged. 

Instead of talking about how they feel and seeking help, they chose a temporary escape from their pain through drugs and alcohol. Men are also more likely to abuse substances than women and drink more than women which compounds the issue of mental health in men. Drinking can worsen depression, and aggressiveness and alcoholism are known risk factors for suicide.

Breaking down barriers and gender stereotypes to create a safe space is one of the most crucial steps to helping men open up. Normalise the subject of mental health and make them feel understood.  Because men frequently neglect their feelings, it is critical for loved ones' families and friends to recognise these patterns of behaviour and encourage them to get help from a mental health specialist.

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