In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the amount of research and students into mental health and its importance. This is a movement that, frankly, is long overdue, but as the saying goes, “better late than never”. However, even as the growing body of research and subsequent studies continues to become more and more well-rounded, there is a facet of mental health that, shockingly, remains definitively behind the rest in terms of progression and in-depth understanding. Men’s mental health is a facet of mental health that is still incredibly underrepresented in the healthcare and medical industries and in the media.
It is a widely-known fact that there is a stigma surrounding men’s mental health that insinuates that they must be strong on all fronts to be considered a “real man”. This is not only categorically untrue, but also wildly inappropriate and even damaging and toxic. Real men should be allowed to show their vulnerability just as much as women are, and yet they are even now still facing a toxic stigma that makes them feel like not only can they not be upfront and honest about their struggles, but that they must deal with them internally – a terrible “solution” that can prove to be tragic, and even fatal. But to break down the barriers surrounding men’s mental health, we must first understand them.
The shock of the statistics
While women attempt suicide three to four times more often than men, more than 75% of suicides are males. That is a staggering realisation, and one that is harrowingly representative of the time we live in. This is a reality that quite literally proves that we have a long way to go before we can be comfortable with the way that we address not only mental health as an important and primary construct of overall health, but men and their relationship with their emotional side. How, in 2019, are we still at a point where men are feeling unsupported and alone in their struggles with their mental health? This is not okay. We must do better.
The necessity of support
The complex nature of mental health means that no two people suffer from unstable mental health for the same exact reasons. For men, they are sometimes so used to tuning out their emotional side, that it can longer for them to even realise their circumstances or their history have caused a mental trauma. For some men, their mental trauma might be triggered by events that subconsciously remind them of unpleasant experiences in their past, and for others, it might be experiencing but not having yet seen a medical professional for the symptoms of Peyronie’s disease (just a few of a billion and one possibilities, of course). So, there is a need for basic support and understanding. Everyone deserves support when they feel confused and lost.
The drive towards change
Finally, there is a growing support network that spans the globe, with various movements and programs coming out of the woodwork with the aim of assisting men who are struggling with their mental health to actively and openly seek the assistance they need to right the ship. It is a long journey before we can be comfortable with the state of the issue, but at long last there are evident movements towards inciting positive change – and that is incredible news. We can only continue to step in the right direction, and take note from the queues of men suffering from mental health struggles, to know how much we are doing, and where we are lacking. These things take time, but we must continue. Life is too beautiful, too important.