Regarding men’s mental health, the critical problems we see today reveal how socialization paradigms have caged the minds of men in an unhealthy way. The way society, which includes each of us, has influenced many men, young and old, to attempt to be “manly” in the wrong ways has created a barrier for men. It might seem like a thing of the past, but it wasn’t so long ago Tyrese Gibson was mocked for showing emotions.
But that’s not to say we haven’t made some progress. The public’s reaction to the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard case is a sign of the improvement we have made in debunking age-old social constructs that men held on to. Constructs that make men think they shouldn’t ask for help. The entertainment industry has also come a long way, with shows like Limitless aiming to promote a healthy image of “men.” Yet, there is still more that we can do and even more that must change. A lot has been said during men’s mental health month, but what will be done? This article discusses gaps that must be filled and practical steps to help men maintain healthy minds.
Asking For Help
Some men find it hard to ask for help. In a study by insurance firm Sheilas’ Wheels, the reports found that men clock up an average of 276 miles a year driving aimlessly without asking for directions. Perhaps even more interestingly, one out of four men wait at least half an hour without asking for directions, and a whopping 12% refuse any help at all. Behind these figures is a way of life men have adopted for a long time. For ages, men have been taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and men aren’t weak.
The messages men learn about the value of self-reliance, physical toughness, and emotional control contradict many activities connected with seeking help. Seeking help requires relying on others, admitting a need for aid, or identifying and diagnosing a problem. These are prominent internal reasons why men don’t seek help.
Even when individuals wish to seek help, they often get stifled by how others -referring to men in their social network- might react. Take Kid Cudi, who had the courage to seek treatment and check himself into rehab to recuperate after struggling with anxiety and depression for so long. Fortunately, he received a lot of support from fans and friends.
If most men in his social circle have never spoken about the issue and often emphasize the importance of standing strong and not letting things get to one, chances are he will keep his illness to himself and avoid seeking professional help if this were his only social network. On the flip side, he was more inclined to seek assistance because he belonged to a community where men are encouraged to discuss their issues with people close to them.
Why men don’t ask for help can be summarized in a statement made by University of Missouri Counseling Psychology Professor Glenn Good. He said: “I don’t think that it’s biologically determined that men will seek less help than women, so if that’s true, then it must mean that it’s socialization and upbringing: Men learn to seek less help.”
If you think being Mr tough guy is cool, here are some facts to make you think again. According to Mental Health America, six million men suffer from depression, and studies show that depressive symptoms in boys have increased from 4.3 to 5.7% nationwide. These numbers are a cause of concern, but the result of untreated depression is even more worrisome.
In the western culture and others, men find it difficult to express emotions due to toxic masculinity, a condition I call the “Boys don’t cry” syndrome. Toxic masculinity refers to behaviors that prevent men from expressing emotions – other than anger – while promoting activities that make the male “dominant” in a particular circumstance.
Unfortunately, when society disregards feelings and gender-defining thoughts are all young people hear over time, they learn to avoid expressing their feelings, and toxic masculinity creeps in. Fortunately, we can nip this issue in the bud by intentionally creating a home and public environment that encourages young people to be open.
Emotions are normal. Everyone feels them, and they are necessary. Shying away from emotions makes you miss out on benefits that’ll make your life pleasant. Such benefits are: improving relational skills, reducing stress, reducing depressive symptoms, and improving confidence. In his experience with depression, Michael Phelps discovered that opening up about your emotions makes it much easier to live and enjoy life.
The terms masculine and feminine are often associated more with traits and less with gender. Being masculine is associated with traits like strength, independence, bravery, and dominance. While being emotional, nurturing, vulnerable, and caring are considered feminine traits.
In the workplace, for example, women and men have found it better to be dominant, assertive, and strong than to be caring, humble, and emotional. Traditional feminine traits are now seen as undesirable and harmful. Harry Styles, a well-known star, has consistently used his influence in fashion and the entertainment industry to encourage men to explore their feminine side. He aims to use his androgynous style to redefine what it means to be a man with confidence.
The question to be answered is, why has this become the norm? If people see a man crying or being caring, he can be considered weak, but if a woman is doing the same things, it is considered good or the way she is expected to act. It’s time for society to understand that character, not gender, determines what qualities we associate with people. But more importantly, we need to learn to accept people for who they are.
Going to Therapy
Globally, males are 1.8 times more likely to take their own lives than women. This shocking fact is not because men are naturally predisposed to mental health challenges. This disproportionally higher suicide risk is often associated with men being less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties and open up about challenges in their life.
Unfortunately, it usually takes an incident that could flip their lives upside down for men to seek therapy. As a substitute, they would repress their emotions and employ unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse. As Jon Hamm would say, “medical attention is medical attention.” After therapy helped him deal with his separation and other life challenges, he has taken a stand to speak about therapy and share his experience to help other men understand that seeking help is not a weak move.
Researchers believe that by comprehending the factors that influence men’s decisions regarding therapy and other forms of assistance, they will be better able to persuade more men to seek help when necessary and improve the quality of that assistance. Their current study points to two essential fixes: Make men aware of the fact that many other men experience mental health problems like depression and change the way therapy is described to appeal to men more.
Where Do We Go From Here
Society influences the mental health of men a lot more than we accept. However, normalizing certain things like going to therapy, accepting people for who they are, and showing emotions are steps we need to take collectively to create an environment that makes it easier for men to ask for help. As we move forward, there are practical steps we must take to get the result we desire as a society.
The first step to breaking the stigma around men’s mental health is improving education about mental health. Researchers have emphasized the importance of breaking down the stigma surrounding these topics by changing how males usually think about depression and suicide. The process of improving this education also includes making them aware of the link between their physical and mental health.
The next step is to create a support system that appeals to men. Community-based programs are one such approach that many experts believe is changing the landscape of men’s mental health. By creating an environment where men can gather to share camaraderie, learn from one another, and keep their hands busy with activities, we can reduce risk factors for mental health disorders.