Recently I have noticed a peppering of showbiz ‘personalities’ who express their frustration with people sharing their experience of mental health, they cry man up! One particular comment is from Piers Morgan, he states: “I’m not convinced by this new trend of male public soul-breaking. Time for our gender to get a grip, methinks. Life’s tough – man up.”
My personal view is society has a stigma towards men, that men should not share their emotions and when they are in times of crisis they should simply get on with it and ‘man up’. Some, including myself would argue that this societal stigma towards men may go some way to explain why the biggest killer in men under the age of 45 is suicide.
I argue from personal experience, as someone who has been in a position where they have attempted to take their own life, not being able to talk about my feelings and emotions was certainly a contributing factor towards my poor mental health at the time. That is why for me, people in the ‘public eye’ using their platform to share their experience of mental health is so important, it gives people like myself the courage to think it is acceptable to talk about my mental health in private, to my friends and family.
We all have a mental health, it’s an in-escapable part of life that we feel and think, yet seldom do we talk about looking after our mental health. If we think about it, most of us are aware of the importance of looking after our physical health; exercise, healthy eating and not smoking are concepts drummed into us from an early age. We are encouraged to take control of our physical health, so my question is why when men try to encourage people to take control of mental health do we have an outcry from some showbiz personalities? We talk about our diet, our exercise plan, our sleep patterns in public discourse on a regular basis why should it be so difficult to talk about our feelings too?
It is important that every single one of us is able to ‘soul bare’ because sharing our emotions gives us as social creatures the capacity to process some of the experiences we have, by ‘soul-baring’ we are giving our mind a workout. This is why it is so important for male public figures to encourage other men to look after their mental health by talking about their emotions and feelings, it keeps people healthy.
From personal experience the most difficult thing for me was admitting I was struggling with my mental health, it took an unbelievable amount of courage to get up there and be able to be more open about it. Once I did however I could then start to think (with support) about how to manage my mental health and part of that was talking about my feelings.
As difficult it is for me to admit, there was nothing ‘manly’ about me hiding away from my emotions, and there was nothing manly about me parading around pretending everything is okay when it wasn’t. It takes strength, courage and resolve to talk about your mental health, so show your ‘manliness’ by sharing how you feel, by shedding a tear and by talking about mental health.