Masculinity and Mental Health

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This is a blog written by a member of the Got Your Back editorial board. 

“Don’t focus on what others think when sometimes others are just as afraid themselves” 

Males have to be strong, popular and tough. Well that’s what’s being told to millions of young boys all over the world. As a man, I am saying that this is wrong and has to stop.

In this current modern day society, it’s ‘uncool’ to talk about my problems. It is difficult to confront friends about how you feel about something. Why should you have to feel like this, why should you have to feel like your own friends will judge, just because something is on your mind. From mental health to relationships, anything that fits into the category of ‘un-masculine’ conversation is frowned upon. Young men don’t even consider talking to their parents, never mind their friends. They feel like that their parents have standards set for their strong, tough teenage son.

Suffering and not saying anything is the worst thing to do, but because people don’t speak up based on society and how people are judged, everything is made much harder. Being a masculine figure, you are told to stay in your lane, be strong and carry on; really we need to be talking about this, issues such as mental health aren’t anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about. One in eight men in the UK have experienced a mental health issue, doesn’t this show that more males are affected by this than we may realise.

From my viewpoint, I was brought up playing rugby and my dad was my coach. So when I decided to stop playing, I was met with tonnes of problems. Problems causing lots and lots of stress. Stress is a funny one because it’s the outcome of a bunch of factors that every teenager will experience. It can even lead to mental health issues depending on the situation. My stress came from my exams and my parents, they were constantly getting at me when I stopped playing rugby after twelve years, they couldn’t see why I would give up on something I was good at. In the end, I just talked to them, I told them all of my reasons and they understood, despite me thinking that they wouldn’t, they did. It’s not worth trying to hide what you’re actually going through when people will usually actually understand.

Linking back to the ‘uncool’ factor, I think it may be deemed ‘uncool’ to talk about everything, but it really isn’t. If you talk to someone, even if it’s someone who you don’t know, they will listen. Your friends care about you more than you think and no it’s not going to make them hate you, they are your friends for a reason. Masculinity isn’t being all tough and emotionless, it’s about being a man and if you are a man suffering with issues you shouldn’t think twice about being able to speak to anyone. The priority is for men to come forward and to express how they feel rather than shying away from it.

There are worse things than being uncool or embarrassed, it could be the right thing to do for your health to speak about out. 75% percent of suicides are males, yet again, doesn’t this show that things need to change. Don’t focus on what others think when sometimes others are just as afraid themselves. There could be someone suffering just as much as you but don’t want to say, this could even be someone who you would never expect. So make sure to talk about your problems not dismiss them.

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