My name is Samantha Boone and I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Associate at Midwest Center for Hope and Healing.
It is important to pay attention and be aware of the mental and emotion health of the men in your life. Due to the nature of counseling and therapy, there are common misconceptions regarding men with their emotions and mental health. Some of those assumptions and misconceptions might sound familiar such as “men don’t cry,” or “the only emotion a man has is anger.” The core them with the assumption undergirding these misconceptions of men and mental health is to be masculine, no emotions can be shown.
So, let’s debunk some of the myths of men and mental health. Men have more emotions than just anger. Anger usually reflects some other, more foundational, emotion. For men, being more aware and connected with their emotions can be more of a hurdle though. Counseling can often help men be in tuned with what emotion they are actually feeling, not just anger.
The other myth is, “Men don’t cry.” Hopefully, this myth is starting to fade, but can still hold weight in our culture. While one of the functions of tears is to keep the eyes moist, most people would agree tears come from some type of emotional response. This response could be from surprise, sadness, anger, empathy, or compassion. Being a man does not exclude a person from sadness, anger, and especially not from compassion.
Ultimately men have and experience a wide range of emotions and their mental health is very important. The idea that mental health and emotions matter for men does not diminish their masculinity or imply weakness. Masculinity in the past has sometimes been defined by minority traits or characteristics that are only true of some men, but far too often, is imposed on the whole male population. These stereotypes include a “playboy”, “tough guy”, “men always eventually cheat,” or “aggressive.” These stereotypes minimize men to be something they are not, and limit them to only experiencing life in a limited way. It is important to remember that men are not defined by their emotions, or lack of awareness of emotions, but by their character and integrity. If men are honest with themselves about their emotions, they can find themselves
in a much better place to work through those emotions, and, in turn, to lead a much happier and fulfilling life.
Here are some statistics that might be insightful:
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, men make up nearly 80% of the suicides that occur in a year.
77% of men polled have suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress, or depression.
40% of men have never spoken to anyone about their mental health.
40% of men polled said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm to compel them to seek professional help.