Men’s mental health month is celebrated every June to create and raise awareness about men’s mental health issues and encourage them to open up about problems and get help. This month also educates people about the problems behind men’s mental health and aims to create a more supportive and safe space for men to vent out.
Almost 1 in 10 men experience mental health issues but only less than half of them receive treatment for it. This may be due to stereotypes or even societal pressures.
After speaking to a couple of my male friends about their personal experiences with their mental health issues, most of them reached out for help, which I’m glad they did but some of them kept their problems to themselves and fortunately got past that phase. Almost all of them told me that men don’t open up easily and this is what’s concerning. They like to handle it in their way and want to face it themselves.
The patriarchal society promotes toxic masculinity by seeing men only as the breadwinners of the family and they are told to be physically and mentally strong. This is what causes them to bottle up their emotions and all these stereotypes in society make it tough for men to seek help.
For example, it is normal for kids as young as 5 years old or sometime around that age to cry very easily as they’re still emotionally sensitive and are adapting to the changes and challenges in their surroundings. Little boys are pressured by the adults in their life who tell them “Boys don’t cry” or ask them not to show their emotional side. They are pressured to be the mature ones, handle their problems and if they open up even a little, society thinks they’re weak. It discourages them and makes them feel vulnerable. It makes them feel like they’re pushed into a corner all alone and are forced to fight against themselves and the world and makes them have treacherous beliefs and ideologies. Instead, they are taught and encouraged to express their emotions in aggressive ways. This is because society wants to see males as the tough ones and accept anger and aggression as a better form of showing emotions rather than expressing them through sadness.
Another notable example is how boys who are brought up more emotionally intelligent are often bullied by their peers. Many boys aren’t emotionally educated and don’t take out their emotions in healthy ways. Emotionally intelligent boys are open with their emotions and express them without much difficulty. Those who find it hard to hard to open up often bully these emotionally intelligent ones as they might be uncomfortable and target them as they feel insecure or just bully them to divert their attention from their difficulties. They are also labeled as “sissy” or “simps” and just because they don’t aggressively show their emotions, they are called gay and have homophobic slurs shot at them.
June also happens to be pride month and is celebrated by millions of people all around the world. It is important to note that pride month doesn’t “overshadow” Men’s mental health month or any such thing of that sort. Pride Month aims to raise awareness about LGBTQ rights and the challenges faced by the community. Men’s mental health on the other hand focuses on raising awareness about mental health issues faced by men and encourages them to get help. Both observances focus on promoting inclusivity and support for communities facing different challenges.
I see my male friends suffering in silence every day and it’s not quite something not only me, but anyone enjoys seeing. Most of them have the mindset of “real men don’t have problems” and even go to the gym or game to distract themselves from the mental stress they’re having. My friends tell me, if they ever open up, it comes out in the form of anger or frustration.
To all the men out there. There’s nothing wrong with opening up. It won’t make you any less of a man and you’re risking your life in a way by not opening up. Your feelings are valid and you’re important. I urge you all to receive help whenever needed.
At the end of the day, mental health is important for everyone regardless of gender, and is important to spread the word about the challenges to one’s mental well-being.
Image source: Jakob Owens on Unsplash