the challenge of having a man’s mind
What are the top 5 reasons for men to struggle with their mental health?
About one in eight men have a mental health disorder in the UK. But what are the reasons for this? We know the reasons for this are complex, and there are over 100 factors which can affect someone’s mental health. How can we understand the challenge of having a man’s mind?
This article is going to focus on some of the messages we’re given on a societal level about how we as men should act and behave. We’ll look at how this is counter productive and how we can adopt different strategies.
1. Boys don’t cry
Expression of emotion is still thought to be an indicator of weakness. This message is potentially internalised for men, and learned very early on in life, from role models and wider societal influences.
It’s an approach I grew up with, and I personally still find it very hard to express any emotion, even if I notice I’m quite distressed internally.
2. I’m not asking for directions
3. I’m strong
Coping with the burdens of life; work, family, bills takes it’s toll. We can be told that we’re strong, to handle these pressures on our own.
But, like muscle that has a limit to how much it can take before damage occurs, so do our minds.
4. I’ll just have something to relax
Men get a double problem which starts with not knowing how their emotional states works. When you feel understandably distressed, through work stress or problems at home, you don’t don’t like the sensation, and so reach for something to help you relax.
For example alcohol is a drug which gives us a short relaxation effect for 2 hours, followed by withdrawal which can lead to symptoms like heart racing, anxiety, headaches and insomnia. Even small regular amounts can lead to mental health problems
Men can also resort to using on their own, a sign of struggling to cope.
5. I don’t get it
One further area for men is they don’t generally understand their own health.
If you don’t understand the issues, but are told that you need to solve your own problems, you can get trapped in a cycle of worry and feeling like a failure. You’re brain may even tell you this, like mine did.
There’s a few things we need to know.
So, what are the solutions here? One view I take is that we need to embrace positive masculinity. This involves turning these problems on their head.
1. Men have emotions
Firstly, let’s acknowlege men have emotions. We may find it hard to express them, but they are there guiding are actions and behaviours. If we aren’t behaving as we would like, perhaps by being angry or agressive, perhaps we can note this and try to understand what’s going on.
Try just writing down the emotions you think you’re experiencing for 5 minutes. Look at what you’ve written. How do you feel that it’s outside of you, something separate?
2. Have a tribe
We don’t have to do it all on our own. There’s lots of examples now of men’s groups. Why not try reaching out to one, or connecting with some friends you’ve become distant to. We know some men want to regain their masculinity, being one-of-the-boys as part of their recovery. If this isn’t for you, this is fine. Some men also like to define their own masculinity based upon what’s important for them, and this is perfectly valid.
3. Share stories
By being part of a group, you may find men are able to share their stories of mental health. Seeing men do this breaks down barriers, enabling others to do the same. Slowly we can change things.
4. Men behave differently
Emotions expressed as anger, agression, recklessness, or withdrawl from your normal self are typical for men with mental health problems. As is reaching for a drink, or something else to calm the nerves. These are signs that something is not right.
5. Know something
There’s plenty to learn about mental health and men. The more we know, the more informed we are, and the better deicisions we can make.
I need help, what do I do now?
If you recognise any of the above, what’s it like for you? Let me know what you think below.
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Photo by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-sad-child-leaning-on-a-wooden-chair-256657/
Photo by Pikx By Panther: https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-flexing-muscle-2092479/
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/monochrome-photo-of-man-drinking-whiskey-7265998/
Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA: https://www.pexels.com/photo/paperclip-in-a-shape-of-a-light-bulb-and-a-rubber-eraser-in-a-shape-of-a-brain-6193936/