Growing up as a male in modern society, you are raised to be strong, independent and competitive. However, they do not tell you that these male-specific attributes creates a toxic masculinity in which it is frowned upon to appear weak or emotional.
This type of masculinity is a recipe for disaster. It is no wonder why 36% of men alter their personality to appear more masculine.
In reality, individuals who conform strongly to masculine norms tended to have poorer mental health and less favourable attitudes toward seeking psychological help.
The burden that male masculinity brings is the reason why suicide rates are considerably higher in men. Shocking statistics by Mental Health Organisation shows that around three times as many men die as a result of suicide compared to women. Furthermore, Suicide is now the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK.
So, what can be done to change this ordeal?
We believe that society must be encouraged to celebrate differences; right from our educational structure through to organisations. Creative industries, in particular, should be encouraged and if possible rewarded when they take bold steps to openly celebrate differences. Such appreciation will reduce peer pressure and society’s expectation of men, thus allowing them to be comfortable with their true self.
At Eagle London Agency, we celebrate differences and encourage its inclusion in all that we do. This is reflected in our team makeup, our project delivery style and our passion for community initiatives that empower the BAME community. By distancing ourselves from social norms, we have shown that there is comfort and success in being different. This type of change is needed across all sectors to improve mental health amongst men especially those from the BAME community.
Furthermore, masculine norms do not suddenly appear in a man’s life; they are instilled in them through early socialisation. This raises the question; can toxic male masculinity be eradicated from childhood?
Rather than asking the question, we are taking action. As our response to Mental Health Awareness Week, we will be organising a summer mentorship program under our Big Dreams Small World project. This project will endorse individuality during childhood socialisation. By pairing young people with successful mentors, we hope to change their perception of men talking about their struggles and their goals from when they are children.
Mental health issues should never be fought in silence. Speak out, seek help and inspire others.