Man Up: Stigma Around Men's Mental Health

woman walking on pathway during daytime

There's a common phrase that is often heard and thrown around several times in typical society, especially addressed to men- "Real men don't cry." Different versions of it exist according to the linguistic and artistic capability of people such as "man up", "you are a boy, seriously, why are you crying?", "Be tough, you are a boy". These simple "advices" may seem like silly jokes, but these can negatively affect a man's mental health.

Mental illness is something that can affect anyone and any kind of discrimination is fundamentally impossible when it comes to dealing with mental problems. Mental health in men is often considered to be a subject of taboo and it is still discussed for years. Societal norms and gender issues make men suffer in silence which further makes them nearly impossible to open up their hearts even to their loved ones.

Shaping the childhood

During childhood, boys are often given toys like giant trucks, superhero lookalikes and war weapons. They are made to wear navy shirts and are taught to be aggressive and strong. Without any further delay, they are introduced to the societal idea of masculinity and strength. They are encouraged to participate in sports, making them competitive and their macho image is celebrated. 
On the other hand, those who have affinities towards arts, dance and aesthetics are often frowned upon by society and they are repudiated from social circles. When they try to express their feelings, they are made to believe that letting out emotions make them powerless and feminine. Sadly, people do not realise that they are sowing the seeds of behavioural issues and mental agony in the minds of these young boys. The absence of a proper outlet for emotions further leads to substance abuse, alcoholism and even depression. 

Treatment of women

When men become socially conditioned to be "strong and powerful", it simultaneously leads them to the notion that women are weak which can result in arrogance and violence towards them. Such beliefs also pave ways to develop gaps between men and women in relationships and marriages through miscommunication, anger, mistrust and gender issues. 
The toxic masculinity in men is something that propagates one of the popular societal evils which is sexism. Sexism and gender stereotypes can hinder the idea of peaceful living and equality among both men and women. The predetermined social conditioning of men plays a major role in the increasing rate of sexual molestations and rape cases in India. 

Stigma around men

The society imposed and outdated gender stereotypes that men should be "tough" and "powerful", entangles behavioural issues as men don't feel themselves as "men" if they open up their emotions. This is primarily because of the popular belief that emotion is a sign of weakness. It is very difficult for men to come out of their social conditioning as they feel inferior to themselves which lead to depression, explosive tempers, anxiety, sex addictions, unhappiness and anguish. 

Depression in men

Depression in men is a common issue and most of the time, it goes unrecognized and untreated. Men develop standard symptoms of depression and these are different from that of women. It is a serious medical problem and according to Mental Health America, more than six million men suffer from depression each year. 

As per the reports of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men committed suicide at a rate of 3.54 per cent higher than women in 2017. Most men try to deal with the symptoms on their own by not disclosing them to anyone as it threatens their masculinity. Women are more likely to commit suicides, yet men are likely to get done with it fatally, most of the time in their first attempts. Men feel reluctant to consult a therapist which further makes them more miserable and lonely. 
In a culturally dominated society, men are burdened with immense pressure to conform to the expected and unrealistic macho image. This increases their aversion to their expression of vulnerability which leads them to misery and loneliness. 

Time to get help

It is high time that men come forward with their inner struggles and get immediate help. When they find themselves with symptoms of mental struggles such as a change in mood, difference in work performances, hopelessness and anxiety and even headaches, they should reach out for help and this is very important.

Talking to a trustworthy person, a close friend or a family member is the most effective step to helping yourself. If that feels uncomfortable, they can extend their hands to a therapist or a doctor. There are a lot of self-help groups and organisations to help people suffering from depression and mental health issues. Some of them include the Vandrevala Foundation and The Face It Foundation. Bell Let's Talk campaign is a similar mental health forum aimed at bringing awareness on mental health issues and destigmatizing mental illness. 


It is extremely important that people should be honest with themselves. It is time that today's men teach future generations of boys, to come out of their societal cages and stereotypes. It is time to make the world realise that no matter what a person's gender is, the only fact that counts is what's going on inside the mind and heart. In a world of "sick hurry and divided aims", sometimes it's ok to be not ok. 

Written By: Chandana J S
Edited By: Harshit Agarwal

Want to join the Eat My News's global community? Here is an opportunity to join the Board of Young Leaders Program by Eat My News. Click here to know more:
Man Up: Stigma Around Men's Mental Health Man Up: Stigma Around Men's Mental Health  Reviewed by EMN on March 19, 2020 Rating: 5

No comments:

* The views expressed in the above article are of the writer and not Eat My News.
Powered by Blogger.