.Looking at the media’s response to Kanye West’s breakdown is just another reason as to why men feel so imprisoned in their struggle with mental health issues. The media’s constant centralisation on Kanye’s illness in order to bring in the readers is selfish in its disregard to his personal health.
Why do men often hide their illness?
Mental illness in men is considered a taboo subject for some as they often tend to deal with this illness unknown to those around them as the fear of social ridicule, as seen by the constant tweets which mock Kanye, prevents them from seeking the professional help which is available.
Another reason may be the constant stress society places on men’s need to maintain passiveness regarding emotions. Although the current times have evolved into being more open to the many expression of maleness, the socially constructed pressure of maintaining an apathetic exterior cannot be ignored in practice. The social stigmatisation of those with mental illnesses no doubt acts as another barrier which men struggle to overcome.
Another reason may be their own perception of their mental illness. Some men may feel like they are a burden on their loved ones if they voice their mental health issues. The fear of being viewed as a strain on the family prevents them from accepting their illness as society forces a strict, traditional and arguably outdated structure on the governing role a man must possess within his household.
A study conducted by C. Deverill and M. King found that “one in five women (19.7%) and one in eight men (12.5%) are diagnosed with a common mental illness”. This evidence displays the truth of mental health issues for men, which is rather shocking as it is the men of society who choose to shelter their illness and are less likely to seek aid for it in comparison to women.
This leads us onto our final reason as women tend to be more vocal and expressive in their emotions, and as society accepts it as a universal female trait, their discussion of their illness is accepted. Men, however, tend to be more confined in their views and emotions. With there being a limited expression of views and feelings within their everyday life, it makes the discussion of personal issues even more difficult to express. It cannot be argued that when a group of male friends get together, the topic of discussion is not “I feel so drained and tired. I didn’t have the will to get out of bed this morning. I feel like if I wasn’t here it wouldn’t make a difference to you guys”.
How can we help?
Men don’t have to openly discuss or talk about their mental struggles as it is a personal issue and should remain so if they wish. However, as a society we no doubt influence the actions men take in dealing with their illness as it can become so crippling at times that it affects their interaction with those around them.
We should not ridicule those who need help as it reinforces their desire to hide it. We should make it more accepting to talk about mental health issues by sharing our own issues in life which we have overcome and use it as a reminder to other that they are not alone. We should acknowledge that men suffer in just as many aspects of life as women do and understand that any emotions we feel, men must feel too. This may seem quite an obvious notion, however, it is easy to forget that men feel emotions just as strongly as women as their passive exterior is often mistaken for lack of emotion.
However, we must also acknowledge that if someone is suffering from an illness they may not necessarily want to talk about it every moment of the day. Having a mental health issue is just a small part of an individual, not the whole and we must therefore not constantly pressure them into talking about it. We also need to be aware of mental illness and educate ourselves, and others, of them. There are a range of mental illnesses and we are all susceptible to experiencing every one of them. #Malementalhealth #anxiety