by Phakamani Moyo
People may find it difficult to discuss their mental health. It’s often even more difficult to ask for help, from anyone. Men, however, face an even greater stigma when it comes to prioritizing their mental health due to societal expectations. Long-held stereotypes about what is appropriate for men and boys have left many with insufficient coping mechanisms, no support systems, and even fewer examples of how to care for themselves and their emotional well-being. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a crisis in men’s mental health, with depression and suicide at all-time high for men worldwide especially men of color. Understanding the stigma associated with men’s mental health is essential for learning how to support them and to come up with suicide prevention efforts. Men are faced with a long list of expectations in many societies around the world. Men are taught to be fearless, capable, and tough as the “provider” figure in relationships and families, and to never show doubt, hurt, or pain. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being tough or capable. However, these characteristics do not exist in the absence of other emotional skills, and they are not limited only to men. What people are trying to teach is that men should be able to handle anything and keep going and this can be extremely damaging. People often don’t want to teach others that pushing forward regardless of your health or lack of support is healthy. What we want people to develop is resilience, which does not imply always being brave and tough. Resilient people are not immune to life difficulties. They can process and recover from setbacks by drawing on both inner and outer resources.