In this blog, we will discuss the reality of men's mental health, how it is not taken seriously, and how this can lead to devastating consequences.
Just man up
In recent years, the stigma around men needing to always be stoic and unfeeling has diminished, which is of course a good thing, men can and should feel, digest, and work through their emotions just like anyone else, and they shouldn't feel it is not 'manly' of them to do so. However, just like all social change, this recent movement is slow. Plenty of people still feel men should always be unflinchingly strong and void of any negative emotions (in some cases people think too much of any emotion is unmasculine). This can be seen with phrases such as "just man up" or "be a man about it" being used when someone is handling a situation with supposedly 'too much' emotion. It speaks to how men are perceived throughout society, and of course, like most things, the stereotype/perception of what it is to be a man has been simplified. Values such as; strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness are what is expected of a man. So when he inevitably shows 'weakness' or 'fragility' he is shunned for it. Now, thankfully people are beginning to accept the idea that this is clearly quite a closed-minded way of viewing things. Men, like everyone else, should be able to cry, feel and work through strong emotions, and show a more traditionally 'feminine' side.
"There have been so many times I have seen a man wanting to weep, but, instead, beat his heart until it was unconscious"
There is a recent phrase that seems to be thrown about everywhere online: toxic masculinity. In truth it's not always used in the most relevant ways, as is the nature of social media like Tiktok, however, it also isn't a phrase to be ignored. The reality of it is that there are toxic outcomes to the traditional idea of masculinity and even more toxic outcomes when it is deeply rooted in the upbringing of a new generation. Toxic masculinity is described in the dictionary as "a set of attitudes or ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole". So all this to say, reinforcing the idea that men need to act a certain way, is contributing to the development of toxic masculinity in men, and therefore leading to negative impacts on men and society. Therefore, all that is achieved by forcing men into little prehistoric boxes of how they should act, is not only hurting them but all of us. It's lunacy.
The dangers of ignoring mental health
Simply put, the stigma that men should not feel or deal with their emotions and instead should ignore their mental health is exasperating the issue, it's a positive feedback loop with the result being a steady or rapid decline of someone's mental health. It develops into problems such as depression, anxiety, and in some cases suicidal thoughts. Which in many cases, could not be overcome. In England 2021, the male suicide rate was 15.8 per 100,000, how many of those men, may have felt they couldn't speak up about their feelings due to the backlash they felt they would receive? All this is to say, it is imperative that the perception of men is shifted so that they feel they can be open and honest about their emotions. So that they can teach their children the same lesson, and so that countless devastating outcomes can be averted.