Terri Cramer shares some ideas on why so many men are experiencing mental health problems.
It’s time for us to talk about men’s mental health. About what it means to be a man in today’s society. About whether our attitude towards masculinity needs to change.
We’re in the midst of a masculinity crisis. Every minute one man commits suicide around the globe and three quarters of all suicides are by men. Whilst the number of suicides by women have fallen, suicide is still the UK’s biggest killer of males under the age of 45.
But why are so many men suffering in silence?
There’s a stigma attached to talking about mental health. And for a lot of men the idea of compromising their masculinity can make it difficult for them to express when they are struggling. We’ve been living with the mounting pressure of gender stereotypes that are outdated and damaging. Our society has a culture of hyper-masculinity, meaning many men feel they are expected to keep up the appearance of being ‘strong’, and that talking about their feelings shows weakness.
Feeling unable to display traditional symptoms of depression means statistically men are more likely to ‘act out’ than women. Frustration can turn into alcoholism, substance abuse and violent behaviour. This can lead to symptoms being misdiagnosed, meaning that some men never receive the help they need.
So how can we can we stop this pattern continuing?
We need to create a safe place where men can talk. Talk about their feelings, their struggles and feel no shame in saying when they need help. At Man Up, Man Down, we want to change people’s perception of masculinity. We’ve created an online forum where people can anonymously share experiences. By encouraging an open discussion we hope that this will create normality when it comes to talking about mental health, and educate others.
Right now, men are choosing to take their own lives rather than open up. This has to change. Let’s start the conversation today.