Male mental health and the implications of ‘being a man’


Us

Men’s mental health issues is something that definitely needs adequate attention and “be a man” is not a helpful advice.

‘Be a man’ is an archaic phrase and its use should be considered anachronistic but it is not. Unfortunately mens mental health issues doesn’t invoke the same response from society that womens mental health issues receive despite the aftermath of its negligence emanating through every generation.

Our society lays much emphasis on what and what not to say to a little girl, yet it turns a blind eye when it comes to boys. Where mothers tell young girls they are strong; defying societal stereotypes, they tell boys ‘boys don’t cry’ or ‘man up’- only to turn around and complain to their friends about how emotionless boys are. ‘Dont be a p*ssy’ and ‘grow some balls’ are other statements that follow a similar trajectory. And what do all these phrases imply?

1. That men are immune to any sort of emotional or mental suffering.

2. That males are only valuable if they are numb as a man isn’t even considered a man if he feels anything that isn’t testosterone pumping through him.

3. That men have no inherit value without sacrifice.

Where a woman and a child would be pardoned to act in a flight or fight situation by virtue of them being women and children, for a man to freeze and not act in a precarious mortal situation would make him a coward. Men will be the first to call out such men.

Similarly women aren’t expected to bear mental burdens however men are expected to sacrifice their sanity. We only acknowledge male strength when it comes with the price tag of mental anguish. Where women are lauded for carrying foeti in their bellies, men are lauded for carrying a gestating fetus of worries and fears in their heads.

The only occasions where male mental health is addressed largely today is in the context of post war society.
It is paramount that we address the stress put on the unevolved , unadapted modern man. The problem is modernity itself. In traditional society, there was a clearly defined hierarchy within a group of closely related people (tribe). There were always elders of knowledge and experience, that had the ability to advise on how to transform negative feelings and experiences into productive energy for the greater good of the tribe.

Men had a sense of duty towards their people and this gave them belonging and purpose. Modern society promotes a culture of extreme individuality that leads to atomization and ultimately, loss of purpose and meaning in life. So at best, modernity can pacify you which is what mental health campaigners try to do but is no long term solution.

A man without meaning, is a living corpse, a shell of a human shrouded in misery and gloom. To live is to suffer and in order to truly survive, we need to suffer with meaning. This world was neither created and nor was it modified so that we may acquire a life of happiness devoid of suffering, and nor was it made for a one devoid of happiness with nothing beyond the undying jurisdiction of misery.

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