“Be A Man”: Importance Of Men’s Mental Health

“Be A Man”: Importance Of Men’s Mental Health

With the way society has evolved, gender roles have also evolved into expectations of how males should be and how females should be, for their clothing, their professional choice, and even to the extent of how emotional processing should be. These expectations become involved in our minds and when a behavior or an action defies that expectation, it’s considered unacceptable and subjected to mockery. With the idea of male traits and expectations of masculinity, men are expected to be strong, assertive, and authoritarian always but it is often overlooked that men experience other emotions like sadness or tend to cry just as all other kinds of humans do. The stigma associated with male mental health revolves around the idea that men should not depend on others for their emotional troubles and handle everything including grief or vulnerability by themselves. The present statistics generated by the world health organization on depression and anxiety, it is reflected that women report higher depression and anxiety it’s important to understand that while numbers may say that that doesn’t omit the possibility of the male population undergoing issues like anxiety or depression. The rates of mental health conditions drawing a gender comparison, girls report depression, anxiety, and eating disorders and boys are more acting out behaviors like ADHD, Conduct disorders, defiance, anger, and Risk-Taking which will be seen in adolescent boys and young men. The reason for this could be that social expectations tend to disprove or disregard men expressing or being vocal about their problems. During the developmental stages, make children are told “ Be a big boy”, Be a man”, and “Don’t cry like a girl”. If a girl falls, the mother or the parent will mostly say” That’s okay. Don’t worry”, however when the same situation occurs with a boy it is mostly said “Come on, get up” or “You’re fine”. When men are subjected to this, they feel the need to show off only their strong sides and are denied the possibility of emotional expression unrefined.

Toxic masculinity is a worldwide issue and does not just exist in South Asia or Asia but across the globe. They are expected to be breadwinners, strong, and in control, these are things that are harmful and make it harder for them to reach out for help. In the UK, the leading cause of death among men (of ages 45 and above) is suicide which shows how difficult it is for them to express what they are going through, where they feel like they would rather suffer alone than let anyone see them in pain or vulnerable.

We need to keep in mind that masculinity is very much prevalent and it is an issue that needs to be addressed. Let’s begin with certain things that men struggle with;

Toxic Masculinity and Patriarchy are something that men suffer which is restrictive for men and women in this system, though there are a lot of movements from women against patriarchy they are not a lot of movements from men who do not stand against patriarchy. Imagine when your worth is measured by “ how much you protect your family” how much you provide for your family” how you procreate”, these messages are very restrictive for men and are internalized very early on in their life. This is not a woman vs men issue, it is a man and woman vs the patriarchal system that has restrictive roles for men and women. For women, we might have the luxury to say I do not like the job and I want to experiment and widen my horizon but for a man, it is more along the lines of “If I don’t have the job, who will pay the bills and who will provide for the family and your worth is determined on what you produce, how much money you have in the bank, how well do you do in your job.

Everyone feels restricted by this patriarchal paradigm and if we are going to move forward and break down this system then men and women have to collectively agree on not being so harsh on men that open up. Men are men’s worst enemy, at times when there is competitiveness and power which is actually a big component of being a man leading to a very black-and-white type of thinking. As parents, women, and men we need to create a space to enable men to open up and express their feelings and talk about it without being shunned or looked down upon.


Ways to do that help Men improve their Mental Health:

Increasing education on Mental Health – The researchers emphasize the importance of “disrupting how men traditionally think about depression and suicide by breaking down the stigma that surrounds these topics” through nationwide campaigns. They also explain that it is important to help men change the idea of receiving support from “a mark of weakness” to a necessary step in maintaining one aspect of health that is as important as any other.

Not being harsh when a man in our life comes up and says that “Listen I think I am not feeling too well” because women tend to panic and personalize it by saying ‘it is my fault’ and tend to become very anxious and then the man withdraws. For example, a research study found that husbands with mental illness frequently reported negative and unsympathetic comments from their wives.

As parents, we teach our children the emotional vocabulary as boys and girls that it is okay for you to feel things, to cry, and if very human to feel bad and have emotions and express them.
Consciously listening to what they say will help us understand that men internalize affecting their mental and physical health.

We need to say more, do more, and create more space for men to coexist in a society that validates their emotions.