Produced by Linh Trinh
MA Marketing Communications
I remember the first time I came across the topic of men’s mental health was when I worked on an 8-week project with Youth Champs for Mental Health (YC4MH) as part of my virtual internship with Think Pacific. What surprised me most was the concerning statistics about men’s mental health. Growing up in a society where men are commonly portrayed as tough, little did I realise how this topic has been infrequently spoken about.
According to the World Health Organization, one in four people in the world will be affected by mental health problems or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Despite the importance of addressing mental health, research from Time to Change in 2016 still shows that a stronghold of men didn’t see mental health as relevant to them. In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem (Mental Health Foundation, 2021). Men also report lower levels of life satisfaction than women, according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey.
Why aren’t men talking about their feeling?
In my recent chat with a male friend, I mentioned the stereotypes and expectations about women sometimes put me under pressure. After a long pause, he also shared that he is also under lots of expectations of being a man. Men are often expected to be strong, dominant and in control. It is difficult for him to reach out for help and talk about his feelings. Especially when studying abroad, he sometimes feels lonely or emotional as much as I do. However, growing up in a traditional family makes him hesitate to open up. Information from Mental Health Foundation shows that society’s expectations and traditional gender roles play a role in why men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. I think it reflects in my friend’s situation and maybe many other men out there.
How can we help?
Thanks to the project I worked on with Youth Champs for Mental Health, I have learned some simple things I can do to help friends or people who are showing signs of mental health problems. Listening without judgement, keeping in touch and reassuring them it’s okay to show their emotions or seek help are the things that I keep in mind when I am worried about someone’s mental health.
As Men’s Health Week will run from 13-19 June this year, I would like to take this opportunity to raise awareness of the health issues that disproportionately affect men. It is important to listen to yourself and become more aware of health problems you may have, and gain the courage to do something about it. There are lots of support from the university and local GP or mental health organisations. Regardless of gender, mental health affects us all, and I hope we will always find ways to support each other and become healthier, happier versions of ourselves. Take care!