It’s been a while since I last wrote something. Today I’ll talk a bit about men’s mental health. Throughout my life, I have had many friends who are men. When I was in secondary school, most of my good friends were guys. I used to talk to them about anything under the sun and they used to be there for me. As I grew up, more and more of my friends became girls. I noticed that as I grew up, the people who were there for me and supported me were my female friends. This is something that I’ve heard many male friends tell me too. That their close friends who they confide in are females.
Unfortunately, men don’t really talk to other men about problems. One of the reasons that I’ve heard most commonly is because the other person does not know how to respond or they don’t feel right, or the person usually just asks them to go have a drink or provide them a solution, which they aren’t looking for.
My male clients have varied from when I was in the U.S to Singapore. I think the help seeking behaviour of men might be very different. In U.S, the men who came to me for help were older men. These men have been trying to get someone to listen to them for the longest time but have not found the help they needed. For the younger men who seek help, I realised that these men are people who have friends. People who have supportive friends around them who encourage them to go out and seek help.
In my life, I know 2 people who have committed suicide, both of them, men. Suicide rate is higher in men because men use more lethal means to take their own lives. When a person is at a stage of wanting to take their own lives, they are at a stage where they are experiencing so much pain, feel so hopeless, and feel like it’s the best thing to do for everyone around them. It pains me and makes me sad to hear stories like that.
I think that we need to learn how to be more supportive of our friends around us, whether male or female.
Men in our current society face a lot of pressure. There’s pressure from the family, from society, from themselves. They are expected to be this “perfect” man, where they need to be good at everything they do, be super sensitive to their partner’s feelings, be successful at work and provide for the family, and be tough and strong all the time. I think our society forgets that men are human too. No humans are perfect and we cannot expect perfection out of anyone. When we put too much pressure on men, it can be difficult for them. Many men now struggle with performance anxiety, whether at work or at home. I know of many men who are having difficulties performing in bed with their partners. This has become an issue, and women, shaming them or being upset with them will not help. It will make it even worse.
How can we help?
Let men share about their problems
For partners, be kind and understanding. Don’t try to overpower them or be dominant. Treat your men like you would other women. Treat them as equals, they are humans as well who deserve the kindness and respect that you would give anyone else.
We need to be kinder to men and more accepting towards them. As women, we might want our partner to protect us, to take care of us, to treat us well, to surprise us, to do nice things for us, provide for us, etc. However, if we strive for equality in life, we need to be able to do the same for our partners too.
For friends, we can provide our male counterparts a listening ear whenever they need, don’t always talk about work, talk about some random stuff about life, about anything else that they might enjoy.
Teach young men that it’s OK to go for counselling in Singapore
Start educating young men that it’s OK to seek help. Don’t force upon them to “man up” or to “toughen up”. Allow them to learn, to grow, to develop at their own pace. Allow them to express their emotions. Let them learn that learning to manage their emotions is much healthier than suppressing them. Create an environment for boys to feel safe expressing what they feel and learn to cope in healthy ways.
Seek justice for men
Another thing that I noticed in our society is how unfairly men are treated when it comes to sexual assault. Men can be victims too. There was a story of 2 men who entered a massage parlour and made to touch the women’s breasts and was masturbated by them, and made to pay money. All the women received was a fine of 5k?
Reverse this story around, the man would have received much more than just a fine.
How sad our society is. Men can be victims of sexual assault too and it’s not OK to just assume that all men want sexual services. I know of someone who recently also had an experience with a female counterpart who he met online, coercing him to have sex, he refused. When you hear this, what comes up to your mind?
If the genders were reversed, would you have a different thought?
I think that in this society there are many double standards. In the past, when I was in U.S. I worked with clients who struggled to get custody of their child, just because they were male, or they had to pay child support, just because they were male. Why does this need to be the case? Even though I am a woman, I do not support laws that are bias. I do not support the biasness of opinions in society. I believe that we need to start cultivating a society that treats everyone as equals. A society that is kinder and more compassionate to others.
Share this post with your male friends who might need a little support!