The 19th November marked International Men’s Day, a worthy cause that this year focussed on male suicide prevention. As the leading cause of death for men under the age of 35, and the fact that worldwide men are twice as likely as women to die from suicide, it’s undeniably vital that our society must tackle this issue.
These facts stem from the clear lack of support for men’s mental health. One survey found that one in eight men (12.5%) in the UK suffer from a common mental health disorder. It is also thought that many men and women are undiagnosed in regards to this issue. Despite such a troubling climate of mental health problems, men are much less likely to seek psychological therapy and hence increase their suffering through silence. This arguably also correlates with the number of men currently in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse in Britain being three times that of women. Men are seemingly turning to the overuse of substances as a coping mechanism rather than seeking a healthier emotional outlet. But why is this the case?
All of this boils down to the idea that showing emotion is seen as an overtly feminine and, hence, weak trait to embrace. Men are often under the impression that they must show resilience in the face of such struggles, building a barrier between themselves and an opportunity for emotional support. This out-dated concept of masculinity that has been engrained into culture is costing men their lives and it needs to stop. Here’s where feminism comes in.
Feminism is a call for equal rights. Feminism realises that whilst women have suffered more under patriarchal societal oppression, the existence of feminine characteristics within both men and women have been condemned. Hence, through striving towards achieving gender equality, feminism calls for both men and women to be supported in overcoming issues that have stemmed from the belittling of what is deemed as excessively ‘female’. This means that women should not be seen as lesser or objectified just because they are a woman, but also that men should not be seen as weak or incapable if they wish to express emotional or mental difficulty. It ultimately gives you the choice to live outside of the confinement of gender roles.
- Suffering from a mental illness does not make you weak, just like having a broken arm doesn’t make you ‘less of a man’.
- Mental illness does not define you and there is no shame in admitting to a problem, it rather displays a lot of courage to tackle it head on.
- Being a feminist means you stand up for the equality and support of all men, women, and everyone in between.
Need to talk? Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.