In a couple weeks we will celebrate International Men's Health Week. Here's how you can join and support this important week.
Several countries observe International Men's Health Week (IMHW) during the week preceding and including Father's Day to focus on issues affecting men's health. When representatives of six men's health organizations around the world met in 2002 at the 2nd World Congress on Men's Health in Vienna, Austria, and resolved to work together to launch International Men's Health Week, it was the first international men's health week.
One of the blessings of this initiative is that it helps destigmatize mental health treatment for men. Remember, we may not all be mentally ill, but we do have mental health.
What are your own beliefs about the intersections of mental health and masculinity?
Here's what one person shared on social media:
"To raise awareness for Men’s Health Week, I want to talk about how the stigma attached to mental health helps create the self-perpetuating cycle of toxic cultures of masculinity. This is not to diminish the struggles women and the gender diverse face, but to instead focus on how we can all work to end the dangers posed by cultures of masculinity. These cultures are so pervasive in society and affect everyone, not just men. We can work to fix a great many social ills by ending the stigma attached to mental health. We need to normalise all of these things for men.
Men are raised to hide their emotions. Men are taught to bottle them up, to not let them show and that to do so is a sign of weakness. Men are raised to be aggressive, instead of passive, that dominance is preferable to compassion. The result is a generation of men who have grown up into adults devoid of emotion and lacking in empathy. And it is in these masculine cultures they wind up and unconsciously work to perpetuate the cycle. Sport, the military, the police, the workforce, boys-club-locker-room-talk are all cultures where the mainstream ideals of ‘What makes a man’ are enshrined.
We all suffer from men that have been raised to suppress their emotions, because suppression stops at a point. When the pot boils over, the men that have been raised not understanding how to handle their emotions and to just ‘suck it up’, or ‘don’t be a sissy’ lash out at those in their line of work, their families, friends and partners. Most people are not able to see the factors at play in their life without being taught to think critically. As a result, men grow up thinking this is just they way things are. Men raise their sons the same way they were raised and the wheel turns again.
Grown men are not a lost cause, but in order to solve the problems toxic cultures of masculinity causes, we need to get to the heart and cut out the rot so a new foundation can be laid. It starts with education and early development. Raise boys in households and communities where it’s OK for them to show their emotions. Teach boys that it’s OK to cry, that it’s better to be upset than to hold it in. Normalise boys crying, normalize boys with empathy, normalize insecurities and fears. The cycle must be broken.
The result will be a generation of empathetic men who grow up unafraid to express themselves emotionally. Men who are more compassionate partners, caring fathers and conscientious workers. This has been about men, but EVERYONE needs to work to break this cycle. Women and the gender diverse perpetuate the cycle of masculinity too. Boys and girls need to be raised the same way. End parenting that teaches ‘boys are like this, girls are like that’. Teach boys it’s OK to feel, show and talk about their emotions.
End the stigma against men experiencing mental health issues."
How could you be the person you needed to be when you were younger? We're all human. We all go through ups and downs. Be kind to yourself. Life is a learning process.
We can break toxic cycles. Here's a shout-out to all the men and women out there for the tireless work they do managing this subject and inviting change. What amazing rockstars you are!
Friday of Men's Health Week has been officially named Wear BLUE Day for the week. Wear blue to show your support.