I’ve been doing some research for a paper at OPRF High School. What started as research into how men’s mental health is being neglected, turned into finding out that neglected men’s mental health impacts men and women, children, and society as a whole. If society can teach men a better way, it can change how their actions affect society.
The beginning of the problem is when men are boys, just starting to grow up and learning how to live. They get told to “man up” or “walk it off” when they get hurt or are sad. Boys are always being told they need to be strong and independent and because their parents are not teaching them what being strong and independent means, they perceive it in their own way. Lots of boys grow into men perceiving strong and independent as physically strong and not getting help. They think they have to do everything on their own and that others helping them means they are weak and need to depend on others to survive in this world, which contradicts the independent part their parents are teaching them.
When they are told to be strong, they see people getting muscles and being able to fight and they think that’s what it means to be strong, so over time some boys start to work out to get strong physically and learn to fight. They start to show aggression and do not express their feelings. They just bottle it up until it comes out as anger. That can result in aggression toward others or even toward themselves.
Society can change this mindset. They should be taught to depend on others a little more. Men should be raised knowing that a therapist can help them understand themselves. Parents should be educated on how to support their kids and provide resources so they can grow their mental stability.
There are a lot of mental health services such as Amita Health and Thrive Counseling Center. Thrive, for example, is helpful with a bunch of recourses such as a mental health crisis hotline, suicide prevention hotline, and scheduled counseling (https://www.thrivecc.org/what-we-do/). Organizations such as Thrive are a great example of how society can help our kids grow into men who don’t think they are going to be seen as weak if they ask for help. If they grow up knowing there are people who can help them and talk to them about their feelings, then that can reduce the risk of built-up emotions. Society can help by normalizing men, talking about their feelings to either someone they trust or mental health professionals.
Aggression can lead to hurting a friend or someone they are in a relationship with or even random people they do not know. They could be aggressive toward their spouse or kids by hitting them. They could start to take out their aggression in other ways, like some messed up people could go to rape or sexual abuse or even suicide, according to the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (https://opdv.ny.gov/professionals/abusers/genderandipv.html#note75).
Men make up 97% of the domestic abusers in heterosexual relationships. Around 20% of marriages have domestic violence included in them. Domestic violence is more than just abuse. Around 29% of domestic abuse is domestic violence.
Another problem is that men are committing suicide and not getting a chance to talk to a mental health professional. A study shows that around 75 to 83% of successful suicides in the United States are men. A reason for that could be that more females have contact with a mental health professional at some point in their life. It’s important that society starts paying more attention to men’s mental health, acting on it and raising our kids to pay attention to their mental health.
Parents should educate themselves on resources about how to deal with their kid’s mental health and normalize the idea that men can talk about their feelings. If men can express their feelings and not just hide it away and keep it to themselves, everyone can feel safe and connected. Society can be connected through feelings and support for one another. Everyone can feel safe because men will be less violent and more empathetic.
It is necessary for parents to be educated and informed on how to raise children to talk about their feelings and feel like part of society.
Konrad Mahler is a freshman at OPRF High School.