November is a national men’s health awareness month. Thus, we want to discuss how we can raise awareness of men’s mental health and self-care abilities in a society where males seeking help are often stigmatized. 25% of men live with mental illness, over six million men struggle with depression each year, while alcohol addiction impacts approximately 1 in 5 men. Men struggle too, and it should be recognized for breaking the stigma around getting help.
Society has formed distorted assumptions about what it would mean for a male to have mental health issues. Besides this, society and gender norms have often taught men to mask their emotions. Hence, the old saying “boys don’t cry” is an example. Although there are some changes to the unrealistic expectations assigned to men by society, something still needs to change. If you identify as a man or want to learn more about how to support men’s mental health, here are some reminders, facts and tips to have in mind.
Reminders for men:
- You don’t need to “man up”
- Struggling does not make you weak
- It is more than okay to show your emotions and talk about them
- There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable
- You deserve to be treated with love and gentleness
- It’s normal to ask for help and support. You don’t have to shoulder everything
- Speaking up in times of difficulty shows strength, not weakness
- You don’t have to be in crisis to go to therapy
- None of these things listed is “unmanly”, but healthy
Men get insecure, have anxiety, have emotions, need support, want encouragement and cry too. These are all normal human experiences. However, everything starts with awareness, so paying attention when things don’t feel right is an important step for every man’s well-being. You can start to regularly take time to recognize how your body feels, what mood are you in, how are you feeling in your relationships and how are you taking care of yourself. Doing this daily is a great place to start for fostering self-care.
Additionally, it will be easier to seek out mental health care without the worry of stigma or judgment the more we normalize talking about our emotions and asking for support. Thus, together we can act on destigmatizing men’s mental health more. Powerful ways to act against stigma;
- Offering more space to listen if someone you care about is going through something more difficult
- Talking about our emotions with the people we care about whether those feelings are pleasant or unpleasant
- Sharing more thoughts about our mental health