Once a taboo topic to approach, mental health has seen increased acceptance in recent years. Therapy is readily available, even covered in some insurance plans, and the stigma that once fully encompassed the subject of mental health has faded substantially. Almost. While many speak more openly about mental health, its stigma still has a white-knuckled grip amongst some groups—one of the most prominent groups being men. Men of every race, religion, and creed are still falling victim to declining mental states.
Men accounted for 75% of suicides in 2020 (AFSP.org), with evidence of an uptrend for the years following. However, according to a CDC survey from 2019, 24.7% of women attend therapy, whereas only 13.4% of men try to get the same help. It is estimated that these statistics have stayed the same at roughly 2 to 1. Men also make up 80% of all violent crimes (UNODC.org). This begs the question – what is wrong with our men? Why are so many of them suffering?
The answer is as equally simple as it is sad. Societal expectations have caused men to keep their problems to themselves – and it is literally killing them. Men have the societal expectation that they must be strong; That they cant express emotions that might make them seem perceived as weak. Ask yourself, when is the last time you’ve seen a male figure in your life cry? The last time a man has opened up about what’s bothering them? Many will struggle to answer this question. Even more, they may not have an answer at all. Men are afraid to express vulnerable emotions because society expects them to be indifferent, aggressive, strong, and even unfeeling. This would explain why so few men seek mental health services and why so many lash out in anger resulting in the high percentage of violent crimes committed.
As a whole, we should be supporting our men to change the societal outlook. It isn’t a show of weakness to seek help, confide in others when you can’t stand alone, or talk to someone when you don’t feel yourself. Instead, it should be a show of strength to acknowledge that there might be something wrong, that one needs to talk about their issues in a healthy way. A man can admit he needs help or talk about his feelings to those close to him and still be strong and stoic. It’s not easy to ask for help or to be vulnerable, but it’s what needs to happen to ensure that more men can live a long life and a happy one.
A Message From the Writer:
As someone who used to suffer from anger and struggle with communication, I understand how hard it is to be able actually to open up with someone. It’s difficult, and at times it even seems like it’s contributing to the negativity that you feel, but there is help on that path. You only need to find that one outlet, that one person that will listen and try to help you, and then life becomes something so much more beautiful. If you read this article and it resonated with you in some way, please, talk to a friend, a sibling, a parent, or even a therapist if you feel the need. Someone cares, and they won’t look at you differently afterward. For anyone that needs to hear it, though we may not have met, I’m glad you’re here today, and I’m proud of how far you’ve come. Thank you for reading this article, and I wish you nothing but the best.
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