Father’s Day is a moment to honour the men who are in our lives and celebrate their roles in society. At this time it’s crucial to have a closer loot at an issue that’s often swept under the rug: men’s mental health.
Why don’t men talk about mental health?
Our society is increasingly becoming aware of the importance of mental health, but there remains a significant challenge that many men face: toxic masculinity. Men are three times more likely to take their own lives than women, according to a government wellbeing survey. They are also less likely to seek help and report lower levels of life satisfaction at every age. A key factor contributing to these troubling statistics is the societal expectations and pressure of masculinity – the notion that men must always appear strong, brave, and stoic, suppressing their emotions and vulnerabilities.
This concept of toxic masculinity can be detrimental, leading to feelings of isolation, inadequacy, and a sense of never getting it right. Many men feel blamed and stigmatized due to the actions of a few, leading to fear and reluctance to engage with potential solutions. The lack of inclusive spaces for men to discuss their experiences and feelings in a healthy way can exacerbate the problem.
This Father’s Day, it’s time we turn our attention to these struggles. It’s time to break the cycle of silence and foster an environment that encourages open conversations about men’s mental health. Family and friends need to pay attention to symptoms of declining mental health, such as irritability, trouble concentrating, poor sleep, absenteeism, excessive drinking, anxiety or poor job performance. It is up to us, as a society, to provide a culture that supports mental health for everyone, including men who may be less likely to ask for help.
Men’s mental health has long been an underexplored area of conversation. The average person spends one-third of their life at work, a fact that impacts mental and physical health. These issues can include stress, burnout, work-family conflict, financial instability, excessive job expectations, and negative relationships. Despite the universal applicability of these pressures, men face particular challenges that call for a new approach.
Toxic masculinity- the real challenge
As a result of social conditioning, we are witnessing socialized ideals of masculinity. These ideals often demand that men appear strong, brave, and emotionless, boxing them into rigid expectations of behaviour. There’s a stigma attached to being a man that can make it difficult to address these issues effectively. Navigating societal problems like harassment and violence, there is often a broad-brush blame placed on all men, which can make many men feel targeted and defensive. This backlash can make it challenging for men to engage actively with solutions to the mental health crisis they face.
Inclusivity is a concept that needs to extend to men as well. While the business world has made strides in promoting inclusivity for diverse groups, men have often been left out of these discussions. Everyone, regardless of gender, should be cared for in a community, and everyone has a part to play in creating an inclusive environment.
When addressing men’s mental health, it’s crucial to understand that it’s not enough to simply tell men that they’re free to speak. They need to feel that their thoughts will be heard and met with empathy, compassion, and understanding. Identifying symptoms of declining mental health is also vital. Men often mask their struggles, making it more challenging to recognize when they’re suffering. Signs can include irritability, trouble concentrating, poor sleep, absenteeism, excessive drinking, anxiety, or poor work performance.
Encouraging men to seek help and openly discuss their feelings is an important step towards correcting the narrative, a determining factor for how we measure the score of well-being in our society. As a society, we are only beginning to understand the complexities of men’s mental health. We all have the choice to contribute to a broader cultural shift towards understanding and addressing men’s mental health issues.
It’s time to break the silence and stigma surrounding men’s mental health, inspire change in our society, fostering a culture where it’s not just acceptable, but necessary, for men to express their feelings, feel listened and supported, and nurture their mental health.
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