From reel life to real life, we all have heard time and again- ‘Men don’t cry’. During difficult circumstances, we all have come across statements like- ‘Take it like a man’; ‘Be an Alpha Male,’ and ‘Men who are sensitive are no men at all.’ But does it really help? Why is not expressing emotions often viewed to be ‘acting like a man?
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, every 7th Indian man is shaken by mental health concerns. Also, according to Health statistics conducted in 2022, 77% of men have experienced common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress, or depression. 29% of men who haven’t spoken about their mental health say they are “too embarrassed” to speak about it, while 20% say there is a “negative stigma” on the issue. One in eight men and one in five women have a common mental health problem, such as depression and anxiety. It is noticeable that when men display signs of mental health issues, such as anger, hostility, emotional aloofness, or substance misuse, those around them tend to normalize these behaviours as inherent to traditional masculinity. Consequently, the societal construct of ideal manhood transforms into a detrimental force that jeopardizes their emotional well-being. This phenomenon is exemplified by the fact that in India, men are three times more prone to suicide compared to women.
So, are emotions and mental health really gender specific? The answer is No!! With growing awareness of gender roles, these stereotypes are breaking, yet many men struggle with their emotions. One of the main reasons is that, unlike women, men are rarely given the space and acknowledgment to be vulnerable. As a result, consciously or unconsciously, men stonewall themselves.
Samvedna Care has been at the forefront of championing initiatives that aim to deconstruct the stigma surrounding men’s mental health and create a safe space for individuals to seek support and guidance without fear of judgment. What is vulnerability? What is stonewalling? Samvedna Care aims to break down the mental stereotype men face by explaining vulnerability and stonewalling.
Stonewalling is a communication pattern characterised by one person in a relationship shutting down, withdrawing, and refusing to engage, express or respond honestly in a relationship. Avoiding talking about one’s emotions, not responding to nonverbal signs, leaving a conversation midway without giving notice or an explanation, or just refusing to address the matter at hand are examples of stonewalling.
Contrary to stonewalling, emotional vulnerability often refers to the capacity to express one’s innermost feelings and emotions, allowing oneself to be seen and understood by others in an authentic and genuine way. While vulnerability is often associated with a sense of fragility or susceptibility, it can also be viewed as a source of strength, as it requires courage and the willingness to confront and navigate challenging situations with honesty and openness. The power of vulnerability lies in its ability to foster deep and meaningful connections with others. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable, you create an environment of trust and authenticity, which can lead to stronger relationships. It is, therefore, important as men to break the cycle of stonewalling, bottling up emotions by wielding the power of vulnerability to cope with emotions in the present and strengthen your mental health in the long term.
If you are someone wondering how to achieve this power, you can incorporate the following:
The societal narrative dictating how men should express emotions has resulted in significant challenges to men’s mental well-being. Samvedna Care’s efforts to dismantle the stigma surrounding men’s mental health are instrumental in fostering a supportive environment where men can seek guidance without fear of judgment. Samvedna Care’s team of dedicated mental health therapists is committed to providing online counselling services, creating a secure and non-judgmental space for men to explore their emotions and work on breaking the cycle of emotional suppression, ultimately fostering emotional well-being and authenticity.
Remember, we all need to play our part in continuing to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health.