The issue of men and mental health often remains a silent crisis in our society.
The reasons for this vary, though many experts attribute it to the growing number of pressures placed on men in contemporary life. Rapid transformations ranging from work, family, and personal life have taken its toll on a considerable segment of men in our current culture.
Regardless of the reasons (and they are important to diagnose) the fact remains that many men are often apprehensive, and in some cases outright resistant, to seeking help to confront the issue.
For many men, doing so indicates they are weak and raises a fear they will be viewed as insufficiently masculine. When it comes to emotional related issues, men are taught to “wear the mask” and present a public face of power, confidence, and strength.
Consequently, the “I have it all under control. Everything is cool” persona is having a crippling effect on many men as they are falling further behind, and in some cases are dropping out of society in general. This is a situation that needs to be addressed, and men themselves can make such changes in their own lives.
The truth is women are much more inclined to open up about their personal health and mental struggles, not just with one another, but with the larger society. There have been some male celebrities – such as Prince Harry, Carson Daly, Pete Davidson and Shawn Mendes – who have gone public revealing their struggles with mental illness and the steps they took to address and combat their struggles.
It is undoubtedly safe to say that these men are hardly the only male public figures who deal with these challenges. The reason why these gentlemen decided to open up about their situations was to send a message to other men that even though they may seem to have it all – money, fame, fortune etc... That they still are human and are vulnerable. Moreover, their stories may inspire other men to acknowledge whatever warring factions reside within their minds.
As men, pride is often one of our greatest assets. Consequently, it can also result in being among our greatest liabilities. Those of us in tune with reality are well aware of the fact we are not immortal. We are prone to stumbling and falling short along the way. We are human. Too many of us are afraid to ask for help. We fear doing so will make us appear weak, emasculated, and vulnerable.
Accept the fact that all of us are in need of help at some point in our lives, and seeking assistance when you need it is not only acceptable, it is very practical.
Mental illness and social anxiety are disorders that can affect any man (or woman) at any point in their lives. None of us are immune from the possibility of enduring such an experience. What is important is how we choose to confront such a situation.
Some men tend to run away from or deny such problems. Other men can take a direct look in the mirror, confront and face such problems head on. For those men facing such a dilemma, which path will you choose? The standard route of denial, or the road less traveled of confronting the problem.
Your health and peace of mind may depend on it.
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker