As men who have experienced (and continue to experience) mental health problems, we’ve had our fair share of conversations surrounding the topic here at MESOA.
Conversations with each other.
Conversations with family and friends.
Conversations with doctors and medical professionals.
Plenty of helpful, life-saving conversations.
But plenty of unhelpful, damaging ones, too.
Conversations that question the validity of what you’re going through.
Conversations that undermine the power of the demons you’re facing on a daily basis.
Conversations that, sadly, often end in being told to “just man up.”
Because, as a result of the tired, emotionally-suppressant stereotypes of masculinity, that’s what we’ve been programmed to do: man up.
Just tuck that problem away in the corner of your mind.
Try thinking positively about it.
Better yet, try not thinking about it at all.
After decades of being told to bottle up our feelings and problems, we’ve created a stigma surrounding even speaking about them in the first place.
As a result, the conversations – or lack thereof – about male mental health issues have become taboo.
But, with 84 men dying by suicide in the UK every week, it’s clear to see that we need to change having these conversations from taboo, to the norm.
In the same way we would naturally give advice to and comfort men with other illnesses, we need the education to be able to provide the same kind of support to men with mental health issues.
And, by partnering with UK male suicide prevention charity, CALM, that’s exactly what we’re looking to do: educate to change the stigma of male mental health, normalising the conversations surrounding it in the process.
Of course, the problem is an extremely complex one – and we can’t undo the damage that has been done entirely.
But, by being part of a growing movement that drives these issues out into the open, we can help repair it. Together.