“Oh my god, are you really crying over this? Don’t be such a girl! Come on, be a man!”
Since their childhood, men have been taught to hide their feelings, masking their sensitive side with a strong and impassive exterior.
To cry is termed as “girly” and emotions are usually dismissed, asking them to “man up” as opposed to seeking help.
These kinds of social norms around masculinity can be extremely detrimental, especially when it comes to your mental health. It can make it really hard for many of us to acknowledge when we’re not doing too well and even harder to reach out to potential sources of support that can help us during that time. The greatest evidence of male vulnerability is in suicide statistics. Among Canadians of all ages, four of every five suicides are male. It was also found that men are 50% less likely to seek help, even from close friends or family.
As of February 4th, 2016, according to the Office of National Statistics UK, there is a significant gender gap in British suicide, with men more than three times as likely to kill themselves as women. The same scenario is seen in the case of people undergoing treatment for alcohol and substance abuse.
This paints a very clear picture. Women are more likely to seek outside help, while men prefer to bottle up their feelings. They aren’t inclined to talk about issues they might be facing, and as a result turn to alcohol or drugs for solace. With time, this leads to their abuse and manifests as a violent social behaviour. This is why men’s mental health is often termed as a “silent crisis”.
The first step towards helping yourself is to identify some telltale symptoms of depression and anxiety. These can include:
- Increased anger or irritability
- Eating disorders
- Feeling tired all the time
- Loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy
- Constant anxiety and fear.
- Increased need for alcohol or drugs
- Suicidal thoughts or inflicting self-harm
- Frequent violent outbursts
- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour
- A feeling of hopelessness
These symptoms if gone unnoticed or not acknowledged on time can extend for months or even years. It can adversely affect your work life as well as your private life. If you feel like you might be facing the beginning of any mental illness, do not consider it as a sign of weakness or failure. Instead, seek help from someone you are comfortable with and trust me, they will be only too happy to help. It is perfectly okay to confront your inner demons by seeking outside help, and in no way does it make you any less of a man.
So to all men out there, remember, it does not always have to be a “one-man battle”.