The most destructive phrase out there in society for young males is ‘be a man’. Males are constantly told don’t be a pussy, don’t cry, grow some balls, don’t be a girl. Drilling this into young males until they fell they have to reject all femininity and hide emotions so much so that they cannot talk about being afraid or hurt, they can only talk about being angry or pissed off. When males do not feel secure in the masculinity so they feel they have to prove it. This could involve fighting, becoming a womanizer.
This is probably because of the assumptions we in society make about masculinity that we pass on and expect from males. Constant threat from other males if they are not ‘man enough’, survival of the fittest. To fight back. Be a provider. Teaching young generations that it is okay to be dominant, in charge, in control. To never back down from anything. Use violence to solve problems.
Aren’t we setting most males up for failure? To feel so much pressure from society to confirm to this unrealistic expectation. So what happens when they do not meet this expectation? Do they get tormented by their peers? their families?
As a society we should not shun, judge or put down those who show emotion, who need someone to talk to, who break the stereotypes of masculinity. We should raise them up, talk to them, be there for them. we should not ostracize men who choose to show emotion, not fight, not sleep around. There are very limited options for males in ways to act, to feel that they are themselves.
So it is no surprise that if males develop mental health issues they feel they cannot speak to anyone, reach out or find help. It’s seen as non-masculine to show weakness and emotion. I am not saying all males have this issue or struggle through their life. But most men do not feel comfortable with searching for help. So what happens if mental health is not treated? Well…
Suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in men under the age of 35. there is still a significant gender gap in British suicide, with men more than three times as likely to kill themselves as women. Males currently in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse is 3 times that of women.
The feature image ‘save the male’ is an advert by CALM (campaign against living miserably) to bring attention to male suicide. This image depicts a male gut that similar to the nature of the wale, its underlying message it quite disturbing. As a society we should not shun, judge or put down those who show emotion, who need someone to talk to, who break the stereotypes of masculinity. We should raise them up, talk to them, be there for them. We should not ostracize men who choose to show emotion, not fight, not sleep around.
Male mental health is not talked about enough. Male suicide rates are on the rise. Why are we still ignoring it? The statistics are there. If you know anyone male or female who is struggling, seems withdrawn or upset, reach out and talk to them. One of my passions is to one day set up a mental health charity for males in my community, have a open group session where males can come and talk about their stresses and emotions in a safe environment in hope that it can prevent suicide. In the meantime, check out CALM.
Its a charity that specifically sets out to tackle male mental health and suicide. If you need someone to talk to ring the Samaritans 116 123 (UK).
If you just kind of want to inform yourself, there is a brilliant documentary on Netflix called ‘The Mask You Live In’. It inspired me to write this post.