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Be a man.

CW: This article discusses topics of mental health issues and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.


A phrase we hear all too often, referring to the idea of being strong, emotionless and uncomplaining.

The definition of masculinity is sharing characteristics associated with manly behaviour, including; strength, courage, leadership, independence and assertiveness. These expectations are unrealistic and unattainable for any man, however, admitting that casts you as weak and a failure. The topic being left unspoken is what is causing the surge in the men's mental health crisis. `


A social construct

Social theories draw on the idea that gender is socially constructed instead of biologically determined. Building on that was the development of stereotypical characteristics obtained by men and women, collating us all into two categories, one being emotional and vulnerable and the other being logical and resilient.

Despite it now being 2022, unfortunately these concepts are still present in society. Throughout researching this topic, I came to the realisation that in my 21 years of life I have never witnessed my dad cry, which for myself is a normalised and accepted emotion to occur. It saddened me to realise that my impressionable, 15 year old brother will also grow up with the attitude 'men don't cry', unless we take action.


Stigmatism

Due to the embarrassment and stigma surrounding men's mental health, often they don't seek help. Men, in comparison to women, typically have smaller social networks and less frequent exchanges of social support with family and friends.

Instead, they fall down the dangerous and self-destructive route which sometimes leads to alcohol and substance abuse, further intensifying their poor mental health.


Suicide rates in men in the UK is a significant concern, sadly, data shared by Samaritans state that men are 3.1x more likely to die by suicide in England than women. More specifically, from 2018 registration, males aged 45 to 49 had the highest age-specific suicide rate in the UK.

No situation is the same, however, women generally are more communicative around mental health. A survey asking men why they don't speak up showed that they have been conditioned to social expectations.

It is vital that we break down the stigma and attitudes towards men's mental health, by creating a 'safe zone' amongst friends, family and online communities so that men feel able to speak up.


A current hot topic for men's mental health is the ITV programme, Love Island. On this years series we see islander, Liam Llewellyn, make the personal decision to leave the show within the first week. A knock in his confidence came after not making a connection with another islander which had an affect on his mental health, fans have applauded him for his brave decision to exit the show and put his mental health first. By being open and having his decision broadcasted across the nation, hopefully Liam's actions will give other men the confidence to take their mental health seriously. Since then, a second islander, Jacques O'Neill, has also taken the decision to prioritise his mental health over the show, in one clip that aired he is seen to be crying and expressing his feelings. This is a small but significantly impactful notion, making him a role model for male viewers to not be ashamed of their emotions.


Action

Men's mental health month has just passed us in June, however, this doesn't mean the conversation should end. After reading this, take a moment to ask yourself, your friend or family member how they are, the simple question could be life changing.

In November, 'Movember' will take place to help raise awareness for men's mental health, sharing content on social media using the associated hashtags will help instigate the conversation and break down the stigma surrounding men's mental health. Until then, charities such as; manup, hischarity, wearehumen, and mindcharity are great websites to educate yourself and gain advice if needed.


The image above is a hoodie from the BGST collection. Boys get sad too is a unisex lifestyle brand, raising awareness for men's mental health. Not only are their clothing pieces fashionable; they have created a community, encouraged conversation and raised awareness. With all purchases, a donation is made to CALM charity, who answer lifesaving calls.


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