In today’s world, mental health has become such an important topic and the perception around it has completely changed for the better. However, society has created a narrative that is further from the truth for men that has been around for centuries. Toxic masculinity sends messages like “Boys don’t Cry. “Rub some dirt on It.” “Don’t be a girl.” Phrases such as these can be so damaging to a little boy. It teaches them that their feelings are invalid and when they show emotion it is not “manly.” Now, try to imagine what that little boy will be like growing up; to constantly feel like any emotion he has needs to be shoved deep down within himself. What will that look like?
Toxic masculinity is something that I love to discuss with my clients. Men being conditioned to suppress their feelings is a pattern that I see far too often. When working with men who do not like to show emotion, a main concept I try to teach them is that showing emotion is not at all a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength. It is important for men to feel like they have a safe space to be emotionally vulnerable.
When someone feels like they have to bottle in their emotions, they start feeling like a pressure cooker. The internalizing continues to get bigger and bigger. Sooner or later that person will eventually implode. This can manifest in many different and unhealthy ways. Anger, rage, risky behavior, substance abuse and even suicide are some of the dangerous effects of toxic masculinity.
According to MindWise Innovations, (2022), below are a few of the concerning statistics in regard to mental health in men.
-Men die by suicide 3.5x more often than women
-About 6 of every 10 men experience at least one trauma in their lives
-Men are almost two times more likely to binge drink than women
-49% of men feel more depressed than they admit to the people in their life
You can help stop the toxic masculinity messages. Check on the men in your life. stop teaching boys that they can’t cry. Give men a safe space to feel like they can express their emotions without the fear of judgement or rejection. Let men feel like their feelings are just as important as women. And show men love and compassion. It is critical to change the narrative for men’s mental health.
MindWise Innovations, (2022). Riverside Community Care.