Mental Health issues are as dangerous and serious as any physical illness. Many organisations around the world are trying to spread awareness regarding mental wellness. One of them is the Mental Health Foundation, which hosts Mental Health Awareness Week from 18 to 24 May. As per Economic Times, mental disorder cases have doubled in less than 3 decades. We, at man matters, are doing our bit to raise awareness about mental health. Mind Matters is a safe space for men facing mental health problems such as stress and anxiety to seek help and redressal.We’re working round the clock to make expert mental healthcare accessible to those who need it during these testing times.
Boys, don't cry!
Ladka hokar ro raha hai? Be a man, ya!
For centuries, these phrases have been synonymous with the idea of ‘dealing with it.’ To “put up” with something. To not ‘complain’ or ‘express’. To be ‘tough’ and to ‘suck it up’. Men, in our society, are often expected to be strong in the face of adversity and deal with all problems with a brave face. This attitude has created a social barrier to seek help and redressal for mental health-related issues. According to The World Economic Forum, only 10-12% people will seek help from a professional for mental health-related problems. The numbers reflect the gravity of the problem we are dealing with.
The Irony of Then and Now
This is a huge stigma, especially when it comes to talking about mental health in general, particularly more so in men. But why? It’s simple; men believe or are perhaps taught to believe that admitting they have a mental health problem is a sign of weakness. This type of thinking is, of course, outdated and is a relic of previous generations that didn’t comprehend enough the seriousness of mental health.
There is indisputably a world of difference between modern mental healthcare than what existed before the latter part of the 20th century. Earlier, mental health issues were compounded owing to the lack of effective treatments and poor understanding of mental health. Moreover, those suffering from mental health disorders were stigmatised and often isolated from the rest of society. This meant, that there was always a resistance to acknowledge mental health issues. Unfortunately, this pattern seems to be persistent even in 2020. It is particularly ironic that even today, in the 21st century when we have effective treatments, the biggest barriers are lack of awareness and the resistance to acknowledge the problem.
How does Gender come into Play?
Often, people tend to ignore their mental health or due to lack of motivation, ignore the mental health issues they are suffering from. It is seen that women often suffer from internal symptoms such as depression and anxiety, while men express external symptoms such as indulging in violent acts or substance abuse. Women tend to have higher rates of internalising disorders (i.e., depression and anxiety), while men experience more externalising symptoms (i.e., violence and substance abuse).
On average, men are less likely to be empathetic and emotionally dependent on intimate partners or friends or family. Whereas, it is more likely for them to adopt unhealthy eating and sleeping habits as a coping mechanism. They may resort to smoking to suppress their mental health symptoms, contributing to worse outcomes. In a recent health index of over 300 diseases, mental health problems were the most significant cause of the overall disease burden worldwide
The critical question to ask is whether enacting ‘masculinity’ protects us from experiencing depression and anxiety or if it merely pushes us to hide our emotions from addressing our mental health problems in the right way. This difference in our approach to mental health influences whether or not we, as men, seek enough help from professionals or people in our social networks or even believe that we are affected by it in the first place.
A Safe Environment
It is a misconceived notion that mental health issues are difficult to treat or in ceratin cases cannot be treated. However, that is not the case. Mental health issues can be treated just like other health issues. We may tend to give immediate attention to someone who is physically hurt. However, we will most likely hesitate going up to someone and ask them how they are feeling if we see them emotionally distressed or low.
We should, in fact, do exactly that. We need to be more involved, show our concern and help build common ground- one where we lose our inhibitions and find a place safe enough to share our common experiences and find hope in knowing that we are not alone, that everyone at some point or the other has gone through what we might be going through at this moment.
Man Matters understands the need to help find a space safe for men to share their feelings and extends this initiative to everyone who might need proper mental healthcare at this critical hour.
The idea is to shine a light on the fact that you are not alone. Man Matters urges people to seek the right guidance and to help find common ground where the most important step a man can take is to talk about how he is feeling, to open up, and not ‘man up’ and suffer in silence. The journey to mental well-being starts with understanding the need of the mind and being true to yourself and the man you are, both inside and out.