Men’s mental health, whoosh okay let’s get real for a minute here. Mental health as a whole has been on a huge journey to be taken seriously, and to break through the stigma. Although we have come a long way we still have a long way to go. In regards to men’s mental health it’s even more of a journey. This group has been swept under the rug. However, I do know that the world has been run and dominated by the ideations of men, which I also agree needs to have a huge change. Mental health is the one place where they lack substance and space, but probably where they need it most.
Men and boys have grown up being instilled with the notions that men shouldn’t/don’t show their emotions. That they need to be cold and tough like stone. That crying would make them less of a man. Not to mention the common taboo of mental health throughout different cultures. These scripts are so toxic, and dangerous. These bottled up, unprocessed emotions then form into mental health issues, mental illness, and constant struggles with processing emotion throughout their lives. These scripts then get passed down to new generations. Because after hearing all of that what man wants to talk about their feelings, or the trauma that they have experienced in their life? Talking about these topics needs to be normalized with men, because we have lost so many young men to substance abuse, self harm, and to suicide. It needs to stop. Change needs to happen. They are hurting and we have to do something.
Personally speaking, it took me a long time to talk about my own mental health issues. Even while I was an advocate, I have invalidated my issues time and time again. I felt I needed to be that rock for other people, but I never truly realized that I had so much that I needed to be honest about. When I did start sharing my story to others it was almost like I wasn’t present in what I was talking about. Because although I shared my struggles I never actually worked through them. I still had that sense that I was okay, and that these things happen so I can get over it. But that isn’t true. It’s exhausting to have to bottle up your feelings. It’s also exhausting and scary to be open and vulnerable when seeking support, but it’s so worth it.
But our resources still aren’t good enough yet. It’s nearly impossible to find mental health support specific to male needs, especially in small towns. The earlier we start these conversations the better. But that’s not enough, we need to offer space that is equipped to the needs of male individuals and that offers a healthy environment for men to interact with one another that encourages growth and support. Our men need to be lifted up, and given a shoulder to cry on when they need it. Things need to be flipped upside down and rearranged for sure.
As for right now, I want to celebrate the amazing, resilient, strong, brave, honest male-identifying agents of change out there. You are incredible, you are loved and you are so important in this fight. Thank you so much for being a part of this journey and allowing men to have a voice and to feel emotions freely. Stay wild kings.
Thank you to Zibby our Youth Media Ambassador for sharing his thoughts on the importance of men’s mental health!
If you are interested in becoming a Youth Media Ambassador for the New Mentality, please email firstname.lastname@example.org