In my opinion, this whole issue is deep rooted by gender stereotypes. Men are ‘supposed to be’ stronger physically and mentally whereas females are ‘allowed’ to express their emotion and be more vulnerable. However, in reality this is extremely toxic. Men need to feel they can ask for help when they need it instead of struggling alone. Stigma and discrimination affects people talking about their problems on a staggering level and it needs to be broken down.
A large proportion of young males don’t come forward about their mental health issues in fear of being laughed at by their peers for being ‘weak’ or a failure. What is sad is that due to the stigma around men admitting to a mental illness, there is a certain degree of truth towards this. This needs to be changed. Whilst the common portrayal is that more women suffer from common mental disorders than men, this is far from the truth. 3 out of 4 suicides are committed by men and suicide is the biggest cause for death in men under 45 years of age. 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from a common mental disorder. However, despite these statistics, women are still diagnosed more with common mental health disorders. Why? Men are either not receiving help or more prominently, they’re not asking for it.
Natasha Devon, a writer for The Telegraph has done some research in this area with teenage boys to gain a further insight into why men don’t speak openly about their problems. She concluded that “they want to talk about how they felt, they don’t want to do it constantly ‘like girls do’…Whilst some said they actually felt more comfortable speaking to a woman about difficult emotional matters because they felt less judged, others said they were in need of a male mentor, something they felt their life lacked.” The full article can be read here .
A few months ago, Prince Harry also began to encourage men to talk about their emotions and mental health. He spoke about how he regrets that he didn’t open up sooner about the death of his mother. He said “It’s okay to suffer as long as you talk about it. It’s not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognising it and not solving it.” I couldn’t agree with this more and I think this statement needs more acknowledgement because it is so important. Often when one suffers from a mental illness problem, they are in denial and feel vulnerable so getting help is a really scary and difficult thing to do. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed makes it harder to talk about. Therefore, recognising you have a problem and then seeking help for it shows true strength.
Male mental health issues need to talked about. As a global community, we need to advocate together to break the stigma, raise awareness and engage in conversation.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a charity working to prevent male suicide by offering them support, finding against gender stereotypes so men feel like they can get help and fighting for better strategies to put in practice. Further information can be found on their website which you can look at here .
Disclaimer: The featured image used in this post isn’t mine.