Mental health is a topic that is associated with a lot of stigma. Tremendous advancements have been made in recent years regarding how we as a society perceive and discuss mental illness, which is fantastic, but based on my own observations, there is one area where mental health awareness could use some serious improvement.
Mental health and men are two concepts that tend to clash quite significantly. As a result of heteronormative assumptions and hierarchies throughout history, it has become socially acceptable to maintain the belief that men who struggle with their mental health are weak because they aren’t depicting the typical behaviour affiliated with masculinity.
I say this belief is horse shit.
Mental health is relevant to all people, regardless of gender, sex, age, race, and lifestyle. It impacts men and women the same, but it seems as though women are more comfortable discussing their mental health openly and publicly than men. This is a generalized observation – some men do, in fact, speak about mental wellness publicly, but I would argue a majority of men refrain from doing to to avoid coming across as feminine or weak.
The presence of toxic masculinity in terms of men’s mental health is a serious problem. I know males who have blatantly expressed their hesitation to converse about their mental wellness as a result of them being male, and therefore being expected to perpetuate a specific masculine persona. This ideology is an extremely harmful and dangerous one, and it must be challenged in order to free up conversation pertaining to the mental health of men.
Men should be able to feel comfortable about discussing their mental health without feeling vulnerable. The stereotype that assumes men shouldn’t openly discuss their emotions is why there is a hesitation from males to be open about their mental health in the first place, and it is one that needs to be eradicated.