Speaking of men’s mental health

Speaking of men’s mental health
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed

A common idea is prevalent in society that men will only talk about power and strength as this is the first lesson they receive from their families while growing up. It is in this initial process of raising a male child that we impart the wrong lessons of life. From early childhood, boys are taught not to cry when experiencing physical pain or mental agony, simply because — "Men don't cry," and thus, boys and girls are brought up differently when it comes to teaching them how to cope with pain, physical or mental.

Over the course of time, boys grow up. While becoming a mature adult, there may be moments when a man may feel weak and emotional, but without the necessary knowledge of how to adjust to that suffering, most men find it impossible to channel.

Men can also feel fear or apprehension. Unable to come to terms with the locked emotions, men often suffer needlessly. Research shows that men are also less likely to reach out for psychological help and counselling. They also have a higher rate of suicide.

It is not healthy for a human being to lead a life full of stress. One must figure out a way to manage stress or come up with a coping mechanism. Even when they experience the death of a loved one, society and men themselves often do not allow themselves to channel the sorrow or the pain.

An emotional expression like crying is very important for maintaining sound mental health. It is a natural way of expressing grief, pain, and even stress; a healthy way of reacting to situations and not necessarily a sign of weakness in any way. Through crying, we channel our deepest emotions; it lightens up the mind.

One must break the idea that men should not cry. You have to give yourself permission and say to yourself — right now the pain is heavy; it is a burden that needs to be released or removed. If you do not remove yourself from the source of pain due to the rules imposed by society, then the burden of pain will continue to increase. People get irritable this way and often lose control of how they behave.

Men often cannot accept gender equality. Sometimes they cannot express their feelings improperly in their marital space. It creates misunderstandings. Many men even lash out at their partners out of frustration or stress, physically and mentally abusing them. This cannot be accepted in any form.

Boys should be taught from an early age how to express their emotions. There is no place for such words as "soft minded", "weak as a human being", "different from others", "feminine or girlish". There is no concept of a "real man".

As a normal person, if a man ever feels that if he goes to someone and cries, he will feel lighter and his heart will be better, then he should do so. He can also talk to a counsellor if needed and learn how to channel positive feelings. If something triggers or creates trauma, intervention is necessary.

Men can cry too — this must be accepted. Emotional expression or crying is a failure – we must come out of this idea. Men in distress must think — I will allow myself, my mind to express emotions and cry, just as others express and cry, and respect that too. In order to bring equality, good relationship and create a healthy environment in society, more attention should be paid to the mental care of men.

Tawhida Shiropa is the Founder and CEO, Moner Bondhu.

Translated by Mannan Mashhur Zarif