Mental health is something that concerns us all. It’s not just something women deal with, it’s something men have to cope with too.
But statistics show that 40% of men don’t talk to anyone about their mental health and that must change. Mental health continues to be a taboo subject for men, with men dealing with feelings of sadness, anxiety and loneliness on their own and in silence. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Mental health statistics and facts:
- 12.5% of men suffer from one of the common mental health disorders;
- 76% of suicides are committed by men, suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 35;
- 36% of psychologist referrals are for men.
I’m not sure why in 2019 it’s still taboo. With more people coming forward to talk about mental health and mental health being encouraged, both men and women should be comfortable with talking about how they feel. Although societal gender norms still stigmatise men, I feel it is up to the individual to choose to get past that.
Where society struggles to accept certain norms, individually we must break down the barriers. It is important to recognise and encourage each other to speak about how they feel. For someone who grew up with a disability, I am well aware of the stigma, but to accept there is one and change nothing, doesn’t help us mentally.
It is important we encourage each other to talk about how we feel. There is no shame in saying ‘I feel sad’ or ‘I’m feeling vulnerable. Yes, there is a stigma but a lot of this goes back to childhood. If parents encourage, their children will participate.
When it comes to marriage and children, parents’ roles, around culture can change the status quo. Equal partnerships can work, but where partnerships are centred around the children, and not around each other, it can make communication difficult.
Where men don’t talk about mental health, others must continue to encourage. Moving forward, we must all encourage and be encouraged to talk about mental health.
Although it’s not easy talking about the things we struggle with mentally, it’s better than having to deal with illness the other end. We don’t grow up in a world where we will all voluntarily choose to come forward.
If we’ve seen our parents talk, we will learn to talk and even if we haven’t, we can choose for ourselves. I didn’t come from that kind of background. Gender is immaterial. If men want to talk, they’ll talk. They have to want to.