What do you think, when you hear the term “gender equality”? Society programmed us to often directly refer to women rights, but we should always keep in mind that gender equality involves both sexes.
When we speak about depression, mental illness or simply coping with stress, historically men were often characterized as “the tough ones” who are not entitled to such feminine things as feelings.
Well, if you think that you are sitting in the wrong history lecture about medieval times, then you are not alone. But time changes – and so does the awareness for the challenges men have to face every day. To raise that kind of awareness, we celebrate International Men´s Day on 19 November with the theme: “Making a difference for men and boys.”
Problems like toxic masculinity need to be tackled to release the pressure on boys to conform to traditional gender norms. The old rules of masculinity no longer apply in our modern world. Today, it is not necessarily the man anymore who is the breadwinner in a home. Those tasks are shared equally between man and woman, so why should this balance of obligation and privilege not be extended to other areas of life?
We are freer to be ourselves today than ever before and that´s what we should convey to all the boys out there. It is okay to show feelings, it is okay to show weaknesses and it is okay to seek out for help. In fact, it is highly welcomed.
The frightening figures show: men face high suicide rate, scarily low life expectancies, and often suffer from mental illnesses, like depression. For a number of reasons, male depression often goes undiagnosed and can have devastating consequences. Many men downplay the signs and symptoms or don´t admit to themselves that they are ill. Ignoring or suppressing a depression with unhealthy behavior will only worsen the negative emotions. That´s why we need to raise awareness for men to be open about their feelings. It is not something that should be considered as “unmanly”, but simply as humanly.
We need to stop classifying illnesses as feminine or masculine. For instance, when most people think of eating disorders, they think of teenage girls hyper-focused on their weight. What people don´t consider is that 10 % of all people treated for eating disorders, are actually men. And eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, are on the rise among the male population.
One reason more to support healthy, free and positive male role models who are not afraid to commit to mental health struggles.
to show your commitment to raise awareness and funds for men’s health, then be brave and grow a moustache, or if you are a woman, support the men around you. This month, formerly known as November, but now just considered “Movember” is intended to start action for men to live happier, healthier, longer lives.
This goal is also something Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, some would argue the most masculine person alive, would express. He has mental health issues on his own and is not scared to speak up. “The key is to not be afraid to open up”, he tweeted, “especially us dudes have a tendency to keep it in. You’re not alone.” This is the kind of spirit that we should embrace on November 19th. We, in terms of men, women and everything in between.
We all struggle with mental health issues from time to time. We should try to help each other out the best we can. Not just on #internationalmensday.
Image: rawpixel via Pixabay