Today, the “boys don’t cry” stigma holds strong. In America alone, over six million men face depression per year, reports the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
From age four onward, boys are taught to hold true to their facial fortitude, holding back tears and maintaining a positive demeanor while masking negative thoughts and feelings.
For this reason, a lot of mental health treatment centers have promoted an embracing approach to mental illness, prompting society to stop shaming men for sadness, depression and confusion.
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The “Immunity” Problem
Males aren’t devoid of emotion. That said, experts believe anger has been historically utilized to meet cultural standards. Our society, today, still upholds values of subduing emotion, masking sadness and hiding disappointment—when males are involved, at least.
Unfortunately, this attitude is instilled at a young age.
It often leaves men confused when talking to their partners, family members or friends about difficult issues.
Frustration, anger, sadness and other physical pains still cause trouble, as they’re being muted. The “immunity problem,” while less persistent in 2016, is still pretty prevalent.
At its core, the no-cry stigma comes from a culture of perceived masculinity. Many mental health inpatient centers have researched the many components driving the stigma, finding that strength, power and stoicism, above all, comprise society’s view of males.
Anything other, as per theory, is associated with vulnerability. The stigma problem is large, and it’s important to understand to combat the stereotype of males crying.
A Positive Shift for Negative Feelings
Fortunately, society is taking steps in the right direction. The road is a long one, however, and is packed with obstacles. Research shows a direct correlation between hidden emotion and resorting to drugs, alcohol and gambling in men.
While this behavior exists in both genders, a heightened need to mask emotion may be a hidden factor in male substance abuse.
Creating a non-shaming, non-gendered and tolerant approach to emotion takes time. Today’s psychologists, medical practitioners and even comedians have assisted the journey, shedding light on the unhealthy motives behind emotional buffering.
First and foremost, they believe, we need to embrace the fact that it’s okay to be unhappy. Sometimes, negative thoughts are the answer. We need to embrace challenging conversations, challenging emotions and challenging responses. A positive shift for negative emotion is on the way.
The Natural Course of Feelings
In behavioral therapy, experts train patients to let feelings progress naturally. If an individual is feeling sad, lonely, scared or angry, mental health residential treatment encourages them to embrace and experience confronting feelings. In many countries, mental health is still “put on the backburner.” Many reaching for help are unanswered, resulting in a block of natural feeling progression.
If individuals can’t experience their emotions in the moment, their blocked feelings may become overwhelming.
This doesn’t only occur in men, either. Both genders face the same psychology when emotions are considered, but society shifts the way we, as a culture, perceive a male’s ability to cope.
Today’s men still aren’t speaking up regarding mental illnesses. Understandably, they’re hesitant to do so. In 2016, society brings down men seeking help—de-gendering them for doing so. Again, the best approach to positive change exists in our ability, as a whole, to embrace transparency in mental health treatment.
To break a stigma, we need to understand it. More importantly: We need to combat it from within.
Highlighting men’s issues is important, but more important is our ability to unify the mental health issues of men and women alike.
While gender biology is still at play, societal mental health standards could use a once-over in terms of discrimination cleansing.
By understanding emotions as a united experience, we may yet create positive change in the world.
A recent Freud & Fashion article, “Boys Don’t Cry,” connects our inability to serve mental health patients with our inability to conceive similar emotional states between men and women. As society states: Boys don’t cry. It’s vital to our success, mental health and physical health, too, to understand the incorrectness of such a statement.
Together, we can lift the world to new standards, increase mental health treatment quality and defeat the emotionally tight stigmas attached to men—and to individuals, in general.