The Stigma Around Men’s Mental Health
Talking about men in the context of their mental health is a taboo talk through and through. This issue is hushed on the grounds of them being the strong pillars of the family, the strong backbones who are supposed to carry all the house problems and earn money to keep that family going. With the constant pressure of everything at work, they are not allowed to crumble or break.
Even if their will shatters the society forces them to work till the end of their sanity, till their body goes on. Their mental health takes a side-line priority or does not exist. Mental Health is already predominantly less discussed when seeing a therapist is considered the first sign of going crazy or mad. Indian households have so much faith and so many expectations from men that we sometimes forget that they are human too.
Where does the stigma arise from?
There are several reasons from where this notion has taken its form. Through the years, even centuries, the idea of strong men and feeble women has culminated into a bigger picture which now dictates how we view certain things. Mental health is one such thing that is considered an unnecessary and alien topic, particularly for men, so far that men from the time they are young boys are told to curb and hide their feelings. Being emotional is, as it seems, a foreign concept for them, especially in the context of their own personal health. This notion has been so drilled into the mind that even avoiding crying is considered a sign of being strong and tough.
All these have contributed to this ridiculous idea:
- Social vulnerability – the expectations from the society
The main reason that continues to push this idea further. Society has tried to instill this practice by persistent propagation. Through the centuries, this has passed by the generations and has been accepted as a normative practice with no contenders trying to speak against it. Even if some people try to rise against it and call out it out are bind and restrained and subconsciously find themselves being its victims.
Relying on themselves instead of speaking up or seeking help is another such problem that has been established due to societal expectations. They are taught to ignore their own personal issues favouring appearing tough and presenting a façade of being strong.
Reluctance to even seek or speak to their close ones is another issue adding to the deteriorating health. Men crying or being vulnerable is seen as ‘abnormal’ or not natural. To save their face and dodge ridicule from their counterparts or anyone else in general, they portray hesitance and reluctance.
Why is it necessary to talk about Men’s Mental Health
Men not being treated as human, constantly being burdened, and being seen as money-making machines should be enough to shame society. A society that is littered with prejudices and biases. A society that is so sure of its practices. A society that is afraid of change. A society that turns a blind eye to the problems in favour of protecting its ‘traditions.’ A society that’s just not ready to accept the term “Men’s Mental Health” is a topic of discussion.
The statistics and studies show harrowing results. It is a spiralling situation that is continuously going down.
- In high-income countries, in comparison to women, suicide by men is double – World Health Organization.
- Men are less likely to get formal mental health treatment than women- National Institute of Mental Health.
- Depression and suicide are ranked as the number one cause of death amongst men, but still, they are less likely to seek a cure for their mental health issues.
Even after such staggering and horrifying realities, men are neglected. Due to the persistence and the refusal to move forward by society, it is a relic of past generations that are being cherished and looked upon as the ultimate source of guiding principles.
But even if the masses choose to ignore it, it does not change the reality, nor does it cease to exist. But as humans who are capable of feelings, we need to acknowledge the existence of this problem. Simply ignoring it would not help the men, neither would it help in the progress of society as a whole. All it does is push us back into a timeline of grave despair and mishaps.
The first step towards it is recognising that yes, maybe someone close to you is suffering.
Signs and symptoms
The initial step towards a better world is recognising that you are suffering. If you or someone you may know shows any of these signs, it is better to be precautious and bring them help.
- Aggressiveness, anger, and irritability
- Changes in mood or energy levels
- Changes in appetite or sleeping habits.
- Difficulty focusing
- Feeling restless or “on edge.”
- High consumption of alcohol
- Inappropriate use of drugs
- Participating in risky activities
- Feeling sad, hopeless, numb, or emotionally “flat.”
- Having aches, pains, or other physical symptoms without a clear cause
- Obsessive or compulsive thoughts or behaviours
- Thinking or acting in a way that causes concern to others or hurts work, social, or family life
- Thinking about or attempting suicide
Who is more prone to suffer from deteriorated mental health?
Although all men are prone to mental health issues, the problem can run deep for some individuals, especially ones that have been through some traumatic experience or faced some form of abuse. Reaching certain age and fulfilling certain expectations that come with it can instigate the deterioration.
- Older men– Generally reaching 70 or 80 could prove to be weighing on some men. After spending their entire life working, the quiet life is especially daunting for them. The lack or loss of a partner due to old age could also cause it. Statistically, this demographic has more suicides than any other.
- Trauma Victims– Trauma victims are already vulnerable and prone to fall under the clutches of mental health problems. Adding the ‘get over it and ‘you are strong, be a man’s attitudes can spiral down this issue to eventual destruction. It also pushes the chances of them suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which they probably would have to go alone.
- Employment issues– lack of jobs or work pressure can cause the severe decline of their mental wellness.
- Legal and Financial Troubles– Men suffering from legal and financial troubles are prone to suicide. This one such problem leads them to abuse drugs and alcohol to instigate the already brewing issue further.
- Widowers– Some men cannot accept their life alone or are especially heartbroken over the loss of their partner. This pushes them to take extreme steps as a result of their depreciating mental health.
Most prominent mental issues: Men’s Mental Health
Mental health problems are not just limited to PTSD and Depression. It causes a vast array of issues that any individual can experience.
- Severe Anxiety- Some men cannot control the level of worry and stress, which is its repercussions. They would become very anxious when faced with some situations. Anxiety renders them incapable of acting somehow; this could also affect the amount of effort they can give it.
- Schizophrenia- It is an extreme form of consequences that men can face. It leads to them being delusional or seeing hallucinations. It can improve the quality of their life and relationships significantly. It almost renders the individual unable to carry their daily tasks.
- Substance Abuse- This is one of the most prominent issues that are the by-product of deteriorating mental health. It ruins their life completely and nulls any form of relationship that they had. It is a form of slow death that slowly chips away their life.
What we can do for men with mental health issues?
Treatment and upliftment of people suffering silently are possible if only we open our eyes and look around us. We would see people with their heads down, just going through their lives. The demons living inside their heads steal their voices.
When we finally recognize what may cause it, what signs we need to look out for, and what possible consequences it can have, we need to look for solutions that may help them.
- Proper Medication
- Changing Lifestyle
NGO for Mental Health
There are several NGOs that work for mental health across India on an enormous scale (not specifically men’s mental health). If you want to find help or just someone to talk to, these organizations provide their assistance. Remember, asking for help is not a weakness rather a show of courage.
- The MINDS Foundation
- Anjali Mental Health Rights Organisation
- Manas Foundation
- The Banyan
- Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF)
- The Live Laugh Love Foundation
Talk! Be vocal! Speak up!
One of the main reasons this problem persists is that we refuse to speak out. We presume that the one friend is living his best life, but we never know what goes in someone else’s life but our own. Presumptions and the inability to speak can cause someone to lose their life.
Sometimes instead of presuming and believing the façade of Instagram, call someone and check upon them. Ask about their life. Ask how everything is at home. Learn to listen and initiate conversation if you notice any difference.
Be vocal to show your support. Show people that you are there and present if they ever need someone to talk to.
So, are men supposed to feel too?
Men. Women. Humans.
How did we, as a society, manage to stoop so low and completely forgot what it is to be a human that we accepted certain horrendous practices as a normative practice? But we have finally reached an end to our wits and started acknowledging that the torch of traditions passed down to us is not true.
Not all men.
Not all women.
Being strong and being weak does not have a set definition. The archaic interpretations are no longer valid. Not all women are weak-willed and damsels in distress. Not all men are incapable of showing emotions. In the end, we need to acknowledge that the world does not work with norms that are no longer applicable. If we refuse to adapt and change, we can never move forward.
Men are just as strong when heading a meeting and when crying over their loved ones. Men are just as capable of taking care of the household as they are of their job. No one can dictate how one handles their issues and loss. Because if crying is what it takes, then it is definitely worth it. Because not all superheroes wear capes.
YES! MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS TOO!
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