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Men's Mental Health: Fighting Back On Both Fronts

24/07/2017 14:47
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There is a crisis in men's mental health and it is getting worse.

Statistics, compiled by the Men's Health Forum, show that men account for over 75% of suicides in the UK and that taking our own lives is the biggest cause of death in young men. We Y-chromosome owners are also three times more likely to be dependent on alcohol, have a lower level of satisfaction with our lives, and are almost 50% more likely to be detained and treated by the state for psychiatric conditions. According to Boreham and Pevalin, men have a lower level of social support and, earlier in our lives, are three times more likely to be excluded from school. Plus, when we are in school, we are falling significantly behind the ladies.

So, what can we do to improve the lot of men and our mental health?

Firstly, stop vilifying masculinity!

Modern men no longer have the same structure, defined by privilege balanced out by the burden of obligation, in our lives that our fathers and grandfathers had.

In a world gone digital, technological, and increasingly progressive, the place of men in society has changed. We are not expected to be the firm-jawed breadwinners, supporting wives and children from a position of detached authority anymore and so the old role-models no longer apply. If online culture (never too far ahead of offline culture) continues to demonize the masculine with its cries of "masculinity so fragile", which appears to be having a go at the intrinsic character of half the population based on consumer products, and lectures about how masculinity is "toxic", then men will be perfectly justified in continuing to disengage and turn our backs on a world that only seems to need us for the purposes of scorn and ridicule. We need no more headlines like, "If men are so strong, then why is masculinity so fragile?", "18 Times Tumblr Nailed Fragile Masculinity", "27 Gendered Products That Prove Masculinity Is Incredibly Fragile" and "21 Of The Greatest Examples Of Fragile Masculinity In 2015 ". These authors are clearly not trying to help; they're just being mean, nasty, capricious, and, worst of all, trying to get a cheap giggle.

The most insidious aspect of this war on masculinity (see Christina Hoff Summers excellent "The War Against Boys" for more) is the Astroturf nature of it.

Most people who interact with men and masculinity actually enjoy it. Admittedly, there will be some individuals who avoid it but that is their mistake. Masculinity is as popular and necessary as ever in the real world. Mums and dads still beam with joy when their sons are being the rough and tumble, naughty, rambunctious little tykes they need to be when learning about interacting with other boys and girls.

Everyone involved with men romantically, whether as girlfriends and wives or boyfriends and husbands, will admit to themselves that when they see their significant other rippling with masculine energy or doing something particularly manly, the bedroom is never far away. People who interact with menfolk like them to be exactly that, "menfolk" and so we're left with the conclusion that the creation of the threat of masculinity is that of activists and those with a political agenda.

This is in addition to the fact that men are, in general, pretty attached to their masculinity; so you're not going to make too many friends among them, a necessary task if helping them is your aim, by slandering one of their key characteristics. It would be like a personal trainer attempting to shift some weight from a client by constantly remarking upon their lazy eye.

Secondly, we need to change the atmosphere and ethos surrounding men's mental health!

For a lot of men, our way of coping with the problems we face is to embrace our manliness, we mock the things that scare us rather than deconstructing them, we create relationships with one another by teasing and engaging in a verbal kind of roughhousing. Men do not relate to themselves and others in the same way women do, it's why men and women are often highly discussable topics among groups of the other gender. In short, the promotion and maintenance of mental health shouldn't reject or try to deal with masculinity; it ought to try to embrace it.

This is why projects like CALM, Movember, and Men's Sheds have been so successful and deserve your support. It's all about supporting men in the way men like to be supported, in a testosterone-friendly environment.

So there you are, go easy on the masculinity-bashing and keep men's attitudes in mind - bish, bash, bosh! Job done!

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