Is there a man in your life?
Father, brother, family member, partner, or friend?
Whilst the importance of men’s emotional health is now more widely talked about, I see a far superior focus on women’s health in media and across news forums. Psychotherapists still see the stigma that is attached to men’s emotional health and work hard to address this. However, the trend is short-lived and men still find it increasingly difficult to talk about their challenges and the emotions they prompt within them, often remaining suppressed causing stress, anxiety and depression.
Many women have the ability to communicate their emotions openly, but for men it remains an uphill battle. The complexities of why are often a topic of conversation amongst professionals in the mental health field. However, we can all take some responsibility in moving this forward and enabling men to be more open with how they feel and talk about the life challenges they face.
Much of my work is with female clients, couples and families. I rarely work with a male client individually, and this is something that concerns me. As women, we very much focus on our own wellness. It is important and key to our wellbeing, but how often do we truly check in on the men in our life?
Let’s consider the here and now. Many of us are worried about what the future holds for us in terms of health, financial stability, employment and family. This is largely but is not exclusively related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the realism of this is that for some it has caused frustration, insecurity and stress which is detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing. Understanding what impact these factors will have on our long term mental health is important and should be considered in all aspects of our life.
I have had the opportunity to talk with men about some of their concerns that directly relate to the current pandemic situation, and understandably they have reason to feel emotionally vulnerable.
Whilst many of us live in an equal world, men still feel an overwhelming responsibility to provide for their families and loved ones. This is slowly changing with more women in professional environments and equal opportunities. However, it does not take away the primitive, ingrained aspect of a man feeling like the core provider and the internalised responsibility that comes with this.
We are becoming increasingly aware of the impact, pressure and emotional challenge this has on the men in our lives. Prompting and engaging in positive conversations, and checking in on their emotional health, are things we should consider doing regularly. Communication is at the very heart of every interaction. It is what helps us feel valued and cared for. It resolves problems and challenges and helps us to understand others.
Check in with the men in your life today. Ask how they are feeling, what are their concerns relating to the current situation, what are their long term worries and what you can do to support them emotionally.
Men feel but many struggle with exposing their emotions and challenges in life. Reach out and open a door of opportunity for them to be understood.
I have listed below some of the key themes that were highlighted during my conversations with the men who encouraged me to write this article:
- I am worried that if I am unable to sustain our current standard of living my wife will leave me.
- I am uncomfortable with telling my wife that we are struggling financially.
- What will others think of me now I have lost my job?
- I have always felt that I need to be the strong one but there isn’t anyone who can be strong for me emotionally.
- I don’t want to let my kids down the way I was as a child, or ridiculed by peers because they don’t have the same as their friends.
- I would feel like a complete failure if I let my family down.
- I feel like I have to keep up with everyone else and it is an immense pressure on me.
- I have friends and like to be social, but we don’t discuss this kind of thing. If anything, we are quite competitive and with that comes additional stress and pressure.
- I don’t talk to anyone about how I feel. I have just got used to carrying on with life and the expectations of others.
Give a man you know or love the opportunity to open up about how the current situation is influencing him emotionally.
If you see someone struggling with their emotional health during these challenging times, don’t stay quiet. Reach out, offer a line of support if you can, or signpost them to someone who can provide some emotional guidance.
Man Health is a UK organisation operating in the North West. They have a useful website www.manhealth.org.uk which you may find of interest.
The author of this article, psychological coach Karen Smith, The Forward Thinking Therapist, is also the founder of The Well Woman Network, a successful social community focusing specifically on positive emotional health for women. If you know of a man who would consider setting up a Men’s Emotional Health Group in Berkshire please contact Karen via email at [email protected].
“Communication, real, genuine communication, is at the very heart of every interaction. It is what fuels passion, laughter, friendship and love. It resolves conflict, enhances learning, develops hope, aspiration and supports us to find solutions and overcome challenge. There has never been as many human beings in this world as there is today. We need to find our way back to true, honest, free communication. To talk, listen, touch, feel and embrace physical contact, genuinely, honestly and in person.” © The Forward Thinking Therapist 2018.