Mental health and Gender stereotypes

writer-tag-carrie

I hate the phrase “Man up”. What’s that supposed to mean? Either stop being lady like and be strong cos that’s what men do, or if you are a man, you can’t be upset because men don’t do that.

Both ridiculous in my opinion.

I am a firm believer in gender equality. And that’s not me saying “Women are they best” because that could not be more opposite. I believe that me and my boyfriend can take it in turns to pay the restaurant bill, I can hold the door for him as well as him hold it for me and I don’t expect him to pay for everything on my Amazon Wish list (even Bill Gates probably couldn’t afford all that!) But so many people don’t think that way and I feel that is a problem. They have this idea in their head of women should do this and men should do that and that anything different is wrong and they must change their ways back to the norm immediately.

Because that sounds fair, apparently.

Wrong! And the impact of these ridiculous, conservative opinions can be visible in many mental health statistics. For example:

In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.

Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 35.

Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to IAPT (Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies) are men.

34% would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off work for mental health concern such as anxiety or depression compared to 13% for a physical injury. (Amongst men with mental health concerns, 46% are embarrassed or ashamed.)

And it shouldn’t be like this. But you knew that already. I hope.

In my opinion, from what I’ve seen and experienced from the media and from personal experience speaking to friends etc, is that men feel they can’t admit they have a mental illness as they think it’s a sign of weakness and their friends will make them feel so much worse by ridiculing them.

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It’s such a shame in a world that has progressed so far that we are still at this stage.

I do feel that if men felt comfortable in admitting they need help then we would find that more men suffer from mental health concerns than we currently realise. Not because the ability to admit it causes more problems, but I think there are more men out there with mental illnesses than the statistics suggest. Even in a completely confidential environment, I think they may not be comfortable in admitting to something that society deems a sign of weakness.

First things first; it is NOT a sign of weakness. Admitting you have a mental illness is one of the bravest things you can do. And the first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. And as I’ve seen shared on a lot of social media sites, and I still very much agree with, “Mental illness is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of being strong for too long”. And it is. In addition to that when mental illness means something as simple as getting out of bed is a herculean task yet you still managed to function and maintain a job etc etc that is true strength.

So I feel, that if we were more able to accept gender equality as a norm and drop these gender stereotypes, more men would feel comfortable asking for the help they need. And once they do that, the numbers and statistics will change for the better.

 

Statistics source: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health


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