Talking about mental health often has been seen, throughout history, as something too ‘emotional’, and, it won’t be a surprise that women are those that have always been linked to emotions and feelings, rather than men – social understandings of masculinity have toxically promoted an image of ‘being a man’ that simply isn’t true. It’s not about being a man, or being anything. It’s about knowing that you can talk about your feelings openly, no matter what your identity.
It’s about knowing that you can talk about your feelings openly, no matter what your identity.
This as a topic that has become particularly prevalent in the last decade or so, when all genders and the fluidity of sexuality have become more spoken about and accepted in society, hopefully leading to more people feeling they can talk about who they are and what they’re feeling.
But it is still important to remember that there actually might be differences in the mental health of different genders, including the way they’re treated and how we act in certain situations. But why is this? Surely in this day and age equal treatment includes equal mental treatment, but apparently not.
Women are said to be more prone to anxiety than men, yet the male suicide rate is higher than that for women. Although the facts and figures don’t necessarily reveal all, clearly there is a huge mental health problem for all genders, but why is it that so many men feel like they’re unable to openly speak about it? Maybe it does lead back to the idea that emotions are seen as feminine and fragile, whereas young boys are told to ‘man up’, and hide their feelings. Maybe it’s the fact that society is designed in a way that women are anxious on internal scales, whereas men are faced with external realities that they feel unable to speak about.
It is very hard to discuss your emotions as a man. Speaking about your mental health or your feelings is fighting the toxic masculinity that you have internalized over the course of your life. On so many occasions as a man, especially as a man of colour, I was raised thinking that to cry is to fail. To be visibly sad is to be weak.
On so many occasions as a man, especially as a man of colour, I was raised thinking that to cry is to fail.
There is a difference in how mental health issues of the genders are treated. It has been so heavily instilled in so many people that they think poor mental health or nervous breakdowns are strictly for women. The high suicide rate in men shows this is not the case. If anything it shows that men have been taught to bottle up these emotions to the point that they cannot deal with them anymore. In order to be helped we need to help ourselves, and to stop sad-shaming other men.
It is no surprise that women suffer from higher anxiety levels than men. There is a huge societal pressure placed on women that certainly negatively affects their mental health. I believe we need to all examine our behaviour and think of how we can make each other feel more comfortable.
Either way, the fact is we need to talk about mental health more. For both genders. For all our sakes.
Image by StockSnap via Pixabay