I speak a lot about mental health and try my hardest to raise awareness and break stigmas around it. As a girl writing from my own perspective, I understand it can be difficult for a man to relate to. But the truth is, male mental health is a seriously pressing issue for a wide range of reasons, so if I can help one man or anyone for that matter think about things from a different view then that’s incredible.
I will never use the phrase ‘man up’. I hate it, because it teaches men that they can’t share their emotions which is exactly what has caused male mental health into such a huge issue today. Stop telling your children to ‘man up’ and not show emotions, because when it comes to a point in their life where they are struggling you will be faced with the challenge of getting them to reach out for help.
The male suicide rate is extremely high. Men are emotion concealers by nature, it’s very rare for them to talk about how they feel and some could be breaking inside and never say a word. I find this very hard to get my head around because I am a classic over-sharer, but some men physically can’t express how they feel. With each excuse, I have a valid answer which will hopefully convince you to think twice about dealing with the weight of the world on your own.
What Will People Think?
I can’t even begin to imagine the pressure of trying to appear masculine all the time. I can only assure the men of this world that no opinion is more important than your own health.
Whether you are too busy trying to make others laugh to hide your own feelings or don’t want to appear weak and emotional, if you are surrounded by people who you feel like will judge you for sharing what’s inside your own head – you’re associating yourself with the wrong people. Any decent, good person in this world will accept you for who you are and understand that mental health is something we all have and all need to protect.
There Is a Way Out
Males seek solutions to problems by nature. Many men who reach out for help for mental health will want a fix to the ‘problem’ in their brain. When they’re told there is no instant fix and it takes time, this falls on deaf ears and they’re uninterested. They want a direct action to make the pain go away and that’s that, they don’t want to hear about things they can do to slowly make it better.
The truth is, mental health is something you always need to put care and time into. If you fall on hard times, you cannot expect to take one dose of medication and it all fixes into place straight away. It will take time and effort to get back to where you were before you lost yourself, and that’s something that a lot of men don’t want to hear. You can get happier and you will get better because hard time always pass – just because there is no quick fix to a mental illness doesn’t mean that there’s no way out.
I’ve always been so confused at how talking about your emotions and problems shows a sign of weakness. Particularly for men, people don’t want to show their darkness to appear strong. I can assure anyone reading this that there is nobody stronger than someone who has experienced hard times, and talks about them.
To this day I still struggle a lot to talk about my mental health to people face to face, I hate people asking me if I’m okay or mentioning things I’ve written to my face. I get extremely uncomfortable and make a joke of the situation, and I will always say I’m doing good even when this is untrue. I share this in common with many males who experience mental illness, everything can be a joke as long as we look like we’re doing okay. But the truth is, nobody can help you if they think you’re doing good. Nobody will try and help if you continue to make everything a joke or brush off any idea that you’re struggling. Sometimes you just need to say you’re not okay, or you need help for people to reach out or understand.
You’re Only Human
Just because you’re the man of a family, relationship or in general, does not mean that you need to be the one with your shit together. Particularly if you’re a father, you’ll feel like you need to set an example and it’s your job to be the strong one for the females and young ones around you. Not only is this outdated, it’s so unrealistic. We are all human and share the same mental system, so why should one gender be expected to be stronger? There’s nothing in the male anatomy to say they can be stronger so why do we expect them to be?
You’re only human after all, and what you believe society expects you to be doesn’t even come close in importance to your wellbeing. The most heartbreaking thing to see happen is a man to take his own life in fear of disappointing or letting his family down in life, because it completely disregards their worth as a person. Men take the strain of finances, work and whatever else they believe is expected from them in relationships or family. There’s no way in this earth that a man should take that strain alone, as these are the biggest causes of stress and depression in the world.
You’re Not a Burden
You may believe that mentioning your problems will only worry or burden those around you, but chances are they’ve already noticed the signs and want nothing more than you to open up. Trying to get a male to open up about their own problems feels like fighting a losing battle sometimes, but mental illness signs have a funny way of showing through no matter how much you try to hide it. This is almost nature’s way of your body trying to reach out for help when you won’t.
Opening up about your problems won’t fix them immediately, but the world feels a little lighter when those around you know what you’re dealing with. Pressure will decrease, people will be there to talk to and you’ve already overcome the first hurdle. It’s unrealistic to battle anything alone.
It Isn’t Easy
But it’s so worth it. Trust me, no one feels comfortable talking about their problems. I take myself as an example, I couldn’t think of anything worse and the thought of it terrified me. I can’t even put into words how much easier it gets when you start to accept it and talk about it to those who can help. It’s so easy to dismiss getting help with that you won’t feel comfortable or you won’t know what to say, but if everyone did this then nothing would ever get done.
Life is way too short and precious to spend it worrying about what other people and stressing the ‘what ifs’. If there’s something in your life causing you stress, face it head on and get help to fix it because it’s not easy alone. Ignorance is not bliss with mental health, it worsens it and removes any chance of anything getting better.
You would not believe the amount of resources available for mental health support. It’s not as scary as going and looking a doctor in the eye and telling him your depressed anymore, because if that was the case I probably still wouldn’t have even reached out yet because that is a huge first step to make. Online organisations such as Calm, The Mental Health Foundation and Papyrus are the perfect first step because you can get help through typing out a message. Starting with the tiniest step like that is all you need, and before you know it you’re well on the road to a better life – take it from someone who understands.