Men’s mental health is often overlooked

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Men’s mental health is often overlooked

Savanna Briscoe, Staff Columnist

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In recent years, mental health awareness has become an important movement throughout our society. This popular movement has helped society normalize mental health and has educated the population by providing information on a topic that has been uncomfortable to discuss amongst our peers. When we think about mental health, gender doesn’t necessarily come to mind, mainly because it has been labeled as universal or gender-neutral.

Women’s mental health has been the main focus when it comes to discussing anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Believe it or not, we live in a world where men’s mental health is often overlooked. For quite some time, society has created this notion that men must not express their emotions. Society has always expected men to possess certain characteristics that are seen as masculine. Men are constantly pressured to be strong, powerful, emotionless leaders, bread-winners and providers. If a man expresses emotions of any kind, he is automatically thought to be weak and lacking in masculinity.

As members of society, we put an immense amount of unnecessary pressure on men to live up to these unrealistic gender expectations. As young boys, men are taught to be tough, to fix things that are broken and to hide their emotions because they were told society wouldn’t accept them if they were too soft. Men are forced to keep their emotions in check, but oddly, they are expected to provide emotional support for their families and others around them. It kills me to think about all the men who are struggling with their mental health but are too afraid to ask for help in fear of the world rejecting them.

As a woman who has struggled with my mental health, I couldn’t possibly imagine having to put on a façade to the world that I am perfectly fine. Today, we are constantly preaching about the importance of mental health awareness but have yet to normalize the fact that men have feelings and emotions, too. A person can only handle so much on their own until they eventually crack from stifling their feelings.

Over the years, I’ve had quite a few conversations with the men in my life about their feelings toward society’s expectations of them. Almost all of them told me they refuse to discuss their mental health because they don’t want to appear as weak, and feel it is necessary to remain strong even when everything around them is falling apart. It saddens me that men still to this day feel like they aren’t allowed to show emotion or ask for help because it isn’t considered a masculine approach.

The mental health of men is just as important as that of women. Instead of continuing to pretend that men don’t have feelings or emotions, it is imperative that, as a society, we acknowledge that men do carry these traits. It is vital that we not only continue to raise awareness for mental health, but that we begin to normalize and discuss the mental health of men. The sooner society accepts the idea that men are allowed to be emotional, sensitive and soft, the less pressured men will feel to be strong all the time. It’s time we stop ignoring the signs of depression in men and instead encourage all males to be themselves, to show emotion, and let them know they don’t always have to stay strong for everyone else. Men are human, too.