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Breaking the Silence: Redefining Men's Mental Health

Men are suffering in silence due to the societal expectations that we reinforce.

As the media continues to dedicate more space to mental health discussions - bringing attention to issues like depression, anxiety, and suicide - we have seen the conversation around mental health gain significant momentum. Yet one group remains largely silent: men.

The societal expectation for men to “man up” with the expectation of strength, resilience, and stoicism has created a formidable barrier to addressing mental health issues. Today, we're breaking down that barrier, exploring the impact of toxic masculinity, and encouraging a more open dialogue about men's mental health.

Understanding Toxic Masculinity

The archetype of the stoic, guarded man dates back generations where emotional expression was considered incompatible with masculinity, introducing us to what some might consider ‘toxic masculinity’. Societal norms have equated masculinity with control, aggression, and emotional repression, and while these traits alone are not inherently harmful, they become toxic when they reinforce the rigid and unrealistic expectations that condition men to accept vulnerability as a sign of weakness. If seeking help is a threat to his masculinity, then what is a man to do but suffer in silence? For if he speaks up he is no longer seen as a man.

If we criticize our fellow man for his very humanity, then how can we expect men to show vulnerability? So we must change the conversation at its core. We must break the stigma. Offering support and spaces where men feel safe to share their struggles without fear of judgment is helpful, but the fact still remains that men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health issues, yet they are at a higher risk for severe outcomes, such as suicide. How can we put pressure on men to speak out about their suffering, when the media we consume and the conversations we initiate also reinforce the reasons they fear to do so? 

What Can We Do?

Changing these harmful cultural expectations starts with challenging traditional norms. Encouraging men to embrace vulnerability and emotional expression is key. If you are someone who advocates for men’s mental health and are wondering how you can help, start by celebrate men who speak out about their challenges and express their emotions. Initiate open dialogue about it - men need spaces where they feel safe to share their struggles without fear of judgment.

And if you are a man yourself who is struggling, remember that although overcoming the fear of judgment is challenging, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Strong support networks are vital, so surround yourself with friends, family, and communities that encourage open dialogue and make it easier for you.

Suicide Crisis Helpline: Call or Text 9-8-8

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