When it comes to men’s health issues, depression ranks as one big problem. It is good to point out that men are only half as likely as women to develop a major depression. But why are so many men committing suicide if you compare with women?
From my own experience and perspective, communication is a key element. Women are more willing to share their problems while fellow men harbor the problems within themselves or drink it off. Generation for so long have encouraged men to be strong and consequently not admit that they are struggling.
Society tell boys that ‘boys do not cry’ and thus condition them from such an early age not to express emotions because doing so is weak. Men have been told they need to be tough and should figure it out. These rigid norms make it hard for men to reach out and seek help. I have seen it happening and we do it very innocently. Men of course ought to be strong but also admitting a problem or a struggle is also strength.
The consequences are problems in work and in relationships. Men describe what they are going through as stress which is easier to deal with rather than sadness. It is hard to know because we deny our illnesses, we self-monitor and self-treat. The challenge is that many men self-treat with alcohol or they isolate themselves. Making depression and other health concerns flourish.
So we need to redefine what ‘strong’ is to our boys. Tell them, it is okay to feel the emotion and it is okay to cry and admit struggle and in need of help.