MENtal Health Matters

Photo courtesy: NPH Medical Services and Action Mental Health UK

Paul Janes

Photo courtesy: NPH Medical Services and Action Mental Health UK

Paul Janes, Editor-in-Chief

Despite the fact that there is a greater concern for mental health now more than ever before, it seems like a group of people are excluded from that conversation. 

Maybe it’s because of the  “societal norms” that scare them from being open about their feelings, or maybe it’s the fact that they don’t want to admit they are struggling because they don’t want to show weakness. 

This group of people is men, and I think that it’s important to say I’m not trying to be sexist in saying this. Discussing male mental health is still widely regarded as taboo, despite the fact that so many men have mental health problems. It is simply a fact that men are often pushed to the side when it comes to mental health, and I’m not going to mince my words in saying this. 

While it is true that men statistically have less mental health problems than women, it is also true that they commit suicide at a far higher rate than women on average. Although mental health problems in males don’t occur as often, when they do occur they are far more violent. 

The culture of everywhere, but especially East, doesn’t allow for guys to be open with their feelings in any situation. When Ryan Post puts artistic videos on Instagram, people instantly call him “gay” or “soft”. People even ask him if he was doing okay, simply because he showed a side of himself that didn’t fit into what people wanted him to act like. If people react that negatively to an artistic video, imagine how scared guys must be to talk about their mental health to kids here. If someone can’t be artistic, how is anyone supposed to be open about depression and anxiety in that exact same environment. Everyone likes to claim that they are accepting of everyone which is fairly true to the most part, but the instant a guy starts showing any emotions that aren’t “tough” people start treating them like they are contagious. 

This isn’t anything new, it’s been happening for all 4 years I’ve been at high school. For the most part every time I have a conversation with someone regarding male mental health it is just awkward, it’s clear to see that the other person doesn’t want to be talking about it. That’s the problem though, nobody wants to talk about it. Your friends don’t want to talk about it because it makes them uncomfortable, your family doesn’t want to talk about it because they feel guilty, you don’t want to talk about it because it’s embarrassing. If there’s one thing that I could change with that statement though, it’s the last part. Being embarrassed by your own mental health is what causes problems in the long run.  

To end this on a positive note, I’m going to give some advice to everyone, but specifically the guys reading this. Talk about your emotions, don’t put them in a “funnel”. As someone who has tried to deal with their mental health themselves, I know that you can’t. You need to talk about it with someone, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation may be. I didn’t know I was struggling until I talked to someone, I thought I was just a normal high school kid. Turns out not every high school kid doesn’t remember 3 months of their life because they were so depressed.
If there is any part of you that feels off just say something about it, it’s so much easier in the long run. I’ve been blessed to have some great friends who called me out when they saw I was struggling, but not everyone has that luxury. The hardest step is the first one, but after that it just keeps getting easier.