As men’s mental health awareness month draws to a close, we would like to remind you why its message must continue. For some people, their initial impulse is to dismiss men’s mental health. The societal pressure of being a man is revealed for in statistics that men are more than three times likely to die by suicide in England than females.
“Movember” or “No Shave November” is dedicated to raising awareness of men’s health overall. This includes prostate and testicular cancer as well as mental health and suicide prevention. Why is this important and why do safe spaces need to be created for men?
The masculine ideal whereby men are supposed to be strong and brave, results in men being too embarrassed to talk about their mental health. Ironically, the most important thing that a man must do is to be there for the people in his life.
Traditional male roles of being the financial provider and pillar of the family results in men’s emotions being covered up as they wish to set a forceful example of security. However, this only leads to a repetitive cycle handed down by generations where men do not discuss their emotions, so their sons follow suit. No man wants to appear weak to the people they love the most.
This stigma needs to be broken as talking about your feelings and sharing emotions is the bravest asset a person can have. So, what part do women have to play in this?
Men often have to sacrifice their time, body, safety and their emotions to fit the stereotype of an attractive man. The question is, do women want a vulnerable man? Luckily, society today does seem to appreciate men opening up about their emotions more and more. However, we must make sure this is not fetishized as this can backfire in a way that men end up feeling used.
Frequently men are put in a situation where they must choose what to be vulnerable about with women as well as their male companions. Being emotional about the ‘wrong thing’ can also damage the conventional image in which society portrays men. So as a society we need to create genuine safe spaces for men, with no repercussions attached.
Lastly, check up on men regularly. Although the initial reaction is to say, "I’m fine”, they now know that there is someone out there for them when things get tough.
What else can be done to support men in society today? Let us know what you think in the comments below.