So, it is something I have mentioned, and blogged about before. But it is something that deserved a wider conversation. Men, and the idea of masculinity what that means.
We are almost through ‘Movember’ which is an effort to get men involved in both charity, but also to help raise awareness. The tag line is ‘stopping men dying too young’ and initially started as an idea in Australia. It was initially created to raise awareness of testicular cancer but has now grown to include prostrate cancer and mental health/suicide prevention. Because something we don’t talk about is men’s health.
Why is that? In this weeks show we did try and explore this – I will apologise for repeatedly suggesting that men ‘woman up’ – taken out of context I sound heartless. But I really only mean that the idea of ‘man flu’ is frustrating to most of the population. But that is detracting from the real issue here.
Men are dying young. Young men are the highest statistic for suicides. Men still dying, dying young, from entirely preventable situations. At the end of the day, it is because we are not talking. Because men still need to prove something, they are still held responsible for being the strong one, the one that doesn’t give up or give in. In the next blog in my #Fighting Fight series looks at ways that this personality archetype can manifest.
Men, men are suffering. It can be as simple as the ideals that are put upon them in the working world, and expectations of even what they were to work and the double standards – I explored this in a previous blog Addressing Equality. Of course this may sound vain and shallow but it is merely a symptom of a larger problem.
Men have not be allowed to change, evolve, roll with the punches. As women, as a feminist – I, we shout for equality. We shout to be heard. We want visibility. But men, men’s roles remain unchanged. How often are men looked at with a queer eye if they work with children, are the nurse and not the doctor, stay at home to look after the children. Men are expected to be strong, to provide, to protect.
And another quirk is that men also do not like to be easily, goaded into things… nagging I think is the colloquial term. Never a truer quote – you can lead a horse to water. I am not going to change any minds with this blog. I don’t even know if anyone will read this blog. But I just want to get this out there. Men are important. Men’s health both physical and mental is important.
Men get stressed, work can be hard, challenging, men can have as much trouble, work loads, time pressure, colleagues, bullying, commutes, poor relationships with coworkers, financial worries, not having much time to relax, to wind down, not sleeping well. Stress. And not talking, not talking because they don’t know who to talk to, don’t want to be a burden, would rather brush it away because talking doesn’t help. Does it. Does talking help, or is it better to come to a logical conclusion to the problem. Because that is the practical solution.
Does it sound like I have gone around in circles from ‘we aren’t talking’ and then suggesting men don’t want to talk. Well the thing is, men also have a lot of pressure on them. They feel that they need hold themselves up to impossible standards – although who is setting those standards will be a difficult thing to untangle.
We all need to make sure that men feel that they are in and have an environment that they can open up. That if something is troubling them, be it mental health or physical health, they know where to get the information and they know where to go to get help. They need to know that it is okay to not be perfect, that the macho ideal is anything but. That men can let their guard down.
With that, there are some numbers that you might want to use yourself or play forward in case someone you know has a need for them at some stage :
doesn’t appear on phone bills : http://www.samaritans.org/news/samaritans-launches-new-free-helpline-number-uk
Mind UK with links for support and urgent care : http://www.mind.org.uk/
And CALM which is a charity dedicated to reducing suicide in young men who are the largest single group in the UK at risk : https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/contact-us/