Mental health is a topic that, in the past several years, has gained tons of support and attention from a lot of people around the world. What’s helped the spread and normalisation of the said topic are the many celebrities and stars who opened up about their struggles with mental health. It seems surreal that people who have everything they could ever want at their disposal, could experience such disorders and struggles. That’s when people started to realise that mental health issues aren’t exclusive to certain people, but are a struggle everyone deals with. This misconception is related to the “self-care”/“self-love” industry that’s also gained widespread popularity recently and has almost always been associated with women, as if men cannot practise self-care and/or self-love.
June is (among other things) officially recognised as Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month (MHM). But how come it isn’t more widely known like other months that represent other subjects? Is it simply because June is such a busy month for everyone with summer and exam season starting, or is it more likely that it’s to do with the double standards that men face in regards to their mental health?
I reckon that almost everyone reading this article has probably heard of – or even been told – the expressions “man up” or “men don’t cry” or another variation of some sorts. Hese expressions create a deeply-rooted fear of feeling/showing emotion. It’s become permanently engraved in the minds of many about how a “true man” doesn’t show emotion, show struggle/weakness, cry, etc.
However, that is simply untrue. Sometimes we forget that men are human too. They have fears, issues, hopes, and dreams and sometimes those aspirations don’t work out and they struggle – just like the rest of us.
There’s often this narrative that men aren’t entitled to their own emotions, as if they don’t have the autonomy to decide how they feel. Their experiences in that sense are therefore often mitigated and invalidated by lots of people around them, whether from fellow male colleagues, a father figure or by their female counterparts. Continuing to promote this false narrative is deeply harmful – to both current and coming generations. It reinforces the idea that men should simply “push through the pain” or “toughen up” – or one of the many other sayings that encourages toxic masculinity into the minds of the youth and adults alike, and this results in a large majority of men suffering with their mental health in silence, because they don’t believe that they’re allowed to speak up.
It takes courage to speak up. For example: a study conducted in 2016 deduced that 7 out of 10 suicides are carried out by men. So no, the issue isn’t only hypothetical. It’s real and it’s devastating. So take your time to educate yourself on how you can unlearn the harmful ideologies that were passed onto you and how you can support your male (or female for that matter) friends or yourself. There’s no shame in struggling, no one should struggle alone.
Mental health hotlines: 01100604002 / 01127777005 (Egypt)