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HomeSocial and PoliticalSocietyGet it off your Chest! This World Mental Health Day

Get it off your Chest! This World Mental Health Day

With the notion that Men’s Mental Health should be addressed & be a priority everyday! Not just on World Mental Health Day, TtL brings you this exclusive story to instill it’s significance each and every day.

We are aware that more people have started to address how important it is that Men start taking care of their mental health too. But from our personal experience, the society in our country is still very far from achieving that goal . So Truetolife asked 10 men in our lives when was the last time someone asked them if they were doing okay. It started off as fun research for an article but ended up an important issue that we probably have been ignoring for a while

Getting back to that research, 8 out of 10 of these men said that they couldn’t remember when someone checked up on them. Most of them also said that it was probably a long time ago. This raises an important concern: why are we still neglecting men’s mental health in a rapidly evolving society like India?

The Changing Face of India: Over the last few years, India has made tremendous progress in a variety of areas, spanning from technological improvement to changes in society. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of addressing men’s mental health. Men are still stigmatised for expressing their emotions and seeking help for mental health difficulties. And most of us understand that the stigma comes from cultural standards and established gender roles. Traditional gender roles contribute significantly to the stigma surrounding men’s mental health. Boys are encouraged from a young age to be tough, solid, and emotionless. They are told that “boys don’t cry” and that displaying vulnerability is a sign of weakness. Men in general are taught that crying, expressing feelings, and being upfront about their mental health issues makes them weak. The cultural pressure to comply with these antiquated stereotypes can feel oppressive, and we’re sure you’ve witnessed it in at least one man in your life.

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Take, for example, Gauri Shinde’s film Dear Zindagi. Through the journey of its protagonist, played by Shah Rukh Khan, the film addresses the difficulties of mental health. The character supports a young woman in confronting her emotional troubles, underlining the need to seek treatment and break free of cultural expectations. These gender roles have real-world effects. Men can shut down their emotions and hide their sensations until they reach a breaking point. The outcome can be disastrous, resulting in depression, anxiety, and even suicide. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 57,000 Indian men committed suicide in 2019. This is an alarming amount and it alone should have highlighted the critical importance of addressing men’s mental health.

Harshit, a 20-year-old college student based in Delhi, spoke to TTL, “Mental illness is not real according to our parents and the older generation, and definitely not for men. Girls can cry and no one would say anything, but if a man does then we’ll be laughed at.

Common Mental Health-Related Illnesses in Men We Tend to Ignore: Depression: Depression does not discriminate based on gender, however, men often portray their symptoms differently than women. While women may publicly express sadness, men are more inclined to display anger, impatience, and even physical discomfort. Instead of recognising these symptoms as indicators of depression, society may mistake them for a poor temper.

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Anxiety: Anxiety disorders impact millions of men globally, but men may conceal their anxiety because of cultural expectations to look in control. To cope, they may engage in dangerous habits or substance misuse, making it difficult to detect their problem.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Men who have been exposed to trauma, such as military personnel or accident survivors, could develop PTSD. Society frequently expects these people to “tough it out” and avoid addressing their trauma, which prevents them from receiving the care they require.

Eating Disorders: Yes, men can develop and suffer from eating disorders, and it is not simply a women-only illness. Men’s challenges with body image and disordered eating are often overlooked since these conditions are mistakenly regarded as predominantly female concerns.

Breaking the Stigma: If we want half our population to live a better life, we have to help them break the stigma. For their sake and ours. Here are some professional (and personal) advice you can take to make a positive change:

Encourage open conversations: Start by asking how the men in your life are doing. Make it clear that talking about feelings and challenges is OK. Listening without expressing judgment can make all the difference.

Educate yourself: Learn about the signs of mental illnesses and the resources available for help. It is essential to know where to turn when help is required.

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Promote professional help: Encourage men to seek professional mental health care when necessary. Let them know how therapy and counselling can be extremely effective in dealing with mental health issues. Vihaan Khandelwal, an Indian second-year student at UWCRCN, recently gave a Ted Talk about How to tackle Male Mental Health Stigmatism. He says “Male Mental health education and campaigns need to start altering their methodology to further target men. They need to start putting men at the forefront of more campaigns and use male influencers on large social media platforms as a resource to put through the message that it is completely normal for men to share their feelings.” This itself shows that the men in the Gen-Z generation are thinking about it more than the previous ones and are willing to help make this change. Saksham, a 20-year-old diagnosed with depression and anxiety Disorder, told TTL, “It was hard to open up to my parents and explain to them how I feel. It took them some time but they understood and got me the medical help that I needed. I’m doing better now.”

Resources for Men’s Mental Health in India: Vandrevala Foundation: This organisation offers helplines and support to men who are dealing with mental health issues. They provide a 24-hour helpline at 1860 2662 345. iCall: The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) runs the iCall helpline, which offers counselling for a variety of mental health issues. You can reach them by dialling +91-22-2552 6770/6771. By: Ashbiha Fathima

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