With Movember coming to a close we thought we would address what can sometimes be a touchy subject. That's Men's mental health and the issues surrounding their mental health.
Most men have been raised to be tough guys. Don't cry in public. Don't talk about your feelings. Don't be honest with your emotions. We're told as boys that we just need to get up, suck it up, rub a little dirt on it, and everything will be fine.
What does it really mean to be a tough guy? We see men competing in combat sports such as MMA as tough guys because they train hard and put their bodies on the line like modern day gladiators. Rodeo bullfighters, better known as rodeo clowns, will do their job to stand between a cowboy and the bull he just dismounted to give that cowboy a little more time to escape, often times facing the threat of serious injury or death head-on. Soldiers will regularly put themselves in harm's way while seeing the horrors of war first hand, being expected to carry on to accomplish mission objectives.
But what happens to those men when they're injured and have a hard time recovering? Or even returning to the profession and not properly dealing with the trauma they experienced? What happens to their mental state, especially when they're still told to suck it up and be a man?
There are more than 151 million men in America today. Each year 6 million men are affected by depression. And men are 77% of the 45,000 people who kill themselves each year in the United States.
The idea of a man asking for help because he's feeling depressed or facing a mental health issue is seen as weak. And for a man to go get help for any issues he's facing is sometimes frowned upon by his male friends. He's told to man up and be a man. Rub some dirt on it and you'll be fine.
Maybe it's time we change the definition of what it means to be a tough guy.
Whatever the situation, men are much less likely than women to seek out assistance for conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. Our social norms make men bare the brunt of these issues alone. Changing the definition of being a tough guy means we need to change some of our social norms. We need to break the stigmas surrounding men's mental health.
Guys. It's ok to talk to someone about what you're experiencing when it comes to depression, anxiety, or stress. Sometimes it takes a good cry to let the emotions flow. We can't keep things bottled up if we are going to be healthy and productive for our family, friends, and coworkers, both inside and out.
Being a tough guy can still mean physical toughness and mental toughness. But perhaps it also means that a guy is tougher if he goes and seeks help for what he's feeling on an emotional level as well. Letting emotions build up only creates a pressure cooker situation, where if they're not expressed in a timely manner, the pressure cooker becomes a bomb. Men who show their emotions should be seen as bolder and more unafraid than the traditional archetype of a man.
So how do we encourage tough guys to shift their mindset into thinking differently about their toughness or their manhood?
The folks over at the Movember Foundation have some great advice:
Globally, every minute, a man dies by suicide.
In the United States, 75% of suicides are men.
So be a tough guy. Talk about your feelings. Let it out. And if you need help don't feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask. You're not alone.