Man up!

Get Connected
Get Connected
Teenage boy standing in sand

So. We’d like to say that the issue of mental health – whether in balance or not so much – has never been a hotter topic. But there is still a huge amount of young men who feel really uncomfortable about opening up when it comes to what’s going on it their heads. Is this just the way they were brought up, or are we still inadvertently carrying on with a redundant stereotype?

Believe it or not, during 2014/2015 just 24% of the people who spoke to Get Connected about their mental and emotional health were male. The majority of these contacts were female, with a small handful who didn’t identify as either.

Now, the majority of people would shrug at these statistics and say that’s not surprising. But why is that? And why don’t we want to do something to change this? After all, British men under 35 are three times as likely to die by suicide.

Research produced by Mind describes the cultural expectations placed on men, like the idea that a boy shouldn’t show his feelings because this would make him ‘weak’.

Mental health activist Jonny Benjamin says: “We’re often being told to keep it to ourselves, or just get on with it – it’s all part of the stiff upper lip, ‘man up’ mentality we have.”
Fiona Mills, a volunteer at the charity Eaton Foundation, says: “If you Google women’s charities, the results go on forever. Do that for men’s – and not so much. Take domestic abuse – there are over ten times more refuges available to women than to men.”

To make a difference and help young men improve their mental health, we need a change in attitude as well as a bigger role for support organisations. We think schools can change the way they encourage and support young men, as well as parents stepping up to the plate and giving dads the chance to be more sympathetic role models. It takes conscious effort to change stigma and stereotypes, but we think it’s about time we begun!

If you need someone to talk to about what is going on for you, Get Connected’s helpline is here for you, as well as our new telephone counselling service.

Or you can take a look in our directory for local organisations who can help you. Either way, we think it’s time to talk.

This post was originally part of the Get Connected website. YouthNet and Get Connected merged to form The Mix in 2016.

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Published on 16-Oct-2015