Changing ‘Man Up’ to ‘Open Up’ || Men’s Health Week 2019

How many of you knew that it was Men’s Health Week?

Being truthfully honest with you, I didn’t before the week even began which I do feel guilty over. As someone who chose to explore men’s experiences that relate to masculinity for their dissertation, it seemed slightly ironic that I didn’t even know this was a thing until two days ago.

My dissertation entitled “Men’s View’s on Masculinity: A Qualitative Study” aimed to understand men’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences that have been influenced or shaped due to their own or society’s definition of masculinity. The findings were unbelievable (even if that is my own opinion) as all my male participants shared in-depth insights into the male world, shedding light on the difficulties that men face on a daily basis and across their entire life.

You may be wondering why I chose to look into this particular topic, especially since I am the opposite sex. But as a feminist, I believe that it is important to be open to understanding what it is like for someone who doesn’t share the same identity, sex, race, ethnicity or culture as you. Over the years I have witnessed many men fall victim to toxic masculinity, that is still very much ingrained in modern society. For as vital as it is to lift up women’s rights and bring about gender equality on a global scale, this is a change that we all need to be united on. Men do matter in this fight.

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Men have higher rates of ill health yet en seek less professional support and services than women. [1]

MacMillan Cancer Support had around 20,000 men contact them in 2018 compared to around 41,000 women. They found that men were 29% less likely to call about emotional support compared to women. [2]

According to the Office for National Statistics UK, suicide still remains the biggest killer in men aged between 15 and 35. [3]

55% of men aged 18-24 feel as if crying makes them less masculine (YouGov 2018). [4]

42% of men in heterosexual relationships think they should earn more than their partner (YouGov 2018). [4]

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The Mental Health Foundation shared these statistics for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week:

  • Among teenagers, 37% felt upset, and 31% felt ashamed in relation to their body image.

  • Just over one third of adults said they had felt anxious (34%) or depressed (35%) because of their body.

  • One in eight (13%) adults experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of concerns about their body image.

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Thankfully there is a growing number of awareness campaigns coming out that are shedding light on men’s poor physical and mental health. ‘Let’s talk about what you can’t say’ was started by Macmillian Cancer Support to encourage men to feel more comfortable talking about cancer.

The BBC’s ‘Man Up’ series and the campaign ‘Heads Up’ through Heads Together, which Prince William has played a crucial role in, are helping to spread the awareness about men and mental health, particularly in relation to men in sport.

“We are here today to take a big step in shattering this silence. We are going to use one of the most powerful, unifying forces in our society – football – to start the biggest ever conversation on mental health.”
– The Duke of Cambridge

The message I hope to send out through this post is that we need to unite together to encourage us all to be more open to talking and sharing our thoughts and experiences regarding physical or mental health issues. Neither should ever be seen as weaknesses, we are all human beings; we all feel every emotion there is to feel and that is what we can connect with. Both men and women are important in this battle to break down the stigma around mental health and equality, so I encourage you to ask yourselves and those around you “how are you feeling?”, “is there anything that needs to be checked out?”, “is there something on your mind?” and be open to a conversation about anything that is of concern.

None of us needs to suffer alone. 

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Here is a short list of links I found to direct you to more information about some of the topics covered:

 

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