Mental health is something that affects us all, though there is still a clear stigma with it, especially for men’s mental health. This stigma is largely attributed to societal expectations of gender and ways of being in society. Traditional concepts of masculinity highlight self-reliance and strength as a key aspect of being a man, which essentially means that traditional men do not require help because they are men, and thus inherently in control. We all know that these outdated perceptions are often extreme and seem to apply to a fictional person more than a living human being. These gendered perceptions are often maintained within our society, through entertainment and narratives. We all have an image in our heads of a macho man who is cold and stoic, emotion doesn’t get passed his dead gaze. Yet, this is not the reality, and we have been fortunately moving in the right direction of confronting these concepts and redefining them.
However, even with our steady progression of tackling outdated gender norms, we still have a palpable stigma with men opening up about their emotions and mental health. The issue is not that we as a society do not accept it, rather we are ready for change, but the history of masculine expectations outweighs our current progression on the subject matter. This essentially means that, since there has been so much gendered expectation ingrained in generations of men, the damage is done and often means that men will stay silent out of fear of rejection. This rejection is not necessarily on a societal scale, but rather on an individual and personal level. Self-stigmatisation is a major issue that is affecting whether men speak out about their mental health. We are moving forward, there is a lot more awareness and representation nowadays regarding men’s mental health, but we still have a long way to go. We need to remove these unrealistic concepts of gender, as these will lead to further stigma and can be damaging for younger generations as they will grow up with them. This is a challenge because these societal expectations have been around for a long time, persisting through generations of men and continuing within our modern and progressive society.