Author: Justin Mckibben
Mental health impacts everyone. Men and women are equal parts of the great whole that is humanity, but there are always going to be differences for reasons of nature and nurture- women of course being the superior sex (in my opinion) as mothers of this world.
Our culture has created archetypes that we are often benumbed to as we try to fit in, without noticing how they may hinder our self-expression or personal development as individuals. We are given preconceptions and misconceptions that steer our thoughts and feelings, or our responses to them, and sometimes they do us an injustice.
Emotional and mental health for men is important, no matter how many men would like to believe their emotions don’t dictate their behavior or would even deny they need them to function, those feeling make all the difference in the world. Here are 3 factors to remember for emotional and mental health for men.
- Emotional Male Role Models
Male emotionality, vulnerability, and sensitivity is different than a woman’s, and one of the greatest injustices to men is that often times these qualities have been socialized out of him. He has been trained with the stigma of not needing to be vulnerable or sensitive.
A lack of emotional male role models makes it difficult for a man to recapture these assets of who they are, because in society men far too frequently hear encouragement to be vulnerable, sensitive, or emotional in ways that mimic or are associated with a female version, which can make the experience seem uncomfortable.
Having a strong male role model who is also emotionally mature and in tune with their feelings can give men an outline of vulnerability and sensitivity they can internalize without feeling like they are crossing a line into the female psychological territory… because guys have feelings too. Mental health for men may not be the first thing they think of when they find a male role model, but they might not even realize that is what stands out the most about that person. Set yourself up with some men in your life who not only excel in careers or hobbies, but also who navigate the tides of the heart with perseverance and compassion.
- We Really Want to be Useful
A lot of us men get a sense of identity in feeling like we are useful, especially in a variety of aspects of life such as:
- Making a spouse happy
- Providing for family/household
- Helping others
- Making others feel safe
A lot of men instinctively want to be given a purpose and responsibility, especially when it comes to providing for the family or being strong for others. A lot of us men seem to expect of ourselves to want to provide financially for a family with infinite needs without facing feelings of struggle, indecision, or anxiety- but this misconception just sets us up to disappoint ourselves for not living up to unrealistic goals, harboring feelings of inadequacy.
We have to remember being strong is about a lot more than fist-fighting wolves in the woods or beating up Russian mobsters to save our kidnapped daughter (eh-hem… thanks, Liam Nesson). Being strong emotionally and mentally as a man is also a huge deal, and serving a purpose for others in that aspect can make a man feel uniquely useful.
In a relationship men are often willing to rise to the challenge of carrying an emotional burden, because in a way it makes us feel useful again. To be respected is likened to being loved for many men, and sometimes we feel a strong need for respect than love.
To help your emotional and mental health, find a purpose and put some ambition into it. The experience can only add wisdom and emotional growth; win or lose.
- “Being a Man” is Truly Being Yourself
One statement is repeatedly said to pretty much every man throughout their life that stunts emotional growth and stigmatizes the mind. It is seemingly so simple and innocent, yet can be so corrupting to mental health for men – “act like a man”… or “man up.”
So what exactly is that supposed to mean?
The truth is, acting like a man is nothing more and nothing less than having the courage to be who you are in your heart. “Being a man” is truly being yourself and having the bravery to be vulnerable and be authentic in spite of the skewed view of society or those who would judge you for it.
The real test for most men in this modern age of surface/material values, aggressive comparison and competition, and disinformation is to understand the truth of who he is at his essence and then to conquer whatever fears would prevent him from taking actions in his life that are aligned with that intention for his life.
A man disconnected from the universe of emotions and thoughts inside him is a man who has forgotten who he is. Emotional and mental health are not something men should shrug off, and they are not only for the ladies. Far too many men overlook the most basic aspects of their life that obstruct their emotional and mental health- which ultimately undermines their progress. This is as true as it is in any regular life, as it is for a man in recovery.
Put the MEN back in MENTAL HEALTH, be who you are and let yourself feel whatever is in your heart.
Mental health and addiction typically offer up plenty of emotional issues. Thankfully dual diagnosis treatment is out there, and Palm Partners takes pride in an outstanding dual diagnosis program. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135