It is not always easy for men to ask for help.
Many of us have grown up believing that we have to deal with problems all by ourselves. Believing that to be a man means that you bite the bullet, put on a brave face and keep going. Because that is the masculine thing to do.
Believing that to show vulnerability makes us less manly and less worthy of respect.
So many of us keep pushing ourselves beyond what we can reasonably take, because we want to show our partners and our families that we are strong and powerful, and that we can carry and provide for them no matter what we are going through.
Even when that means enduring stress at work or struggling with our partner.
Sometimes we see life changing around us and we can’t make sense of what is happening to us, to our partner or children. Some men suffer in silence being bullied because of their physical build or sexual orientation. Some men are emotionally manipulated by their partners or families. Sometimes men lose control and hurt the ones they love.
It is OK to ask for help when we need it. More than OK; it is the right thing.
Many men have grown up disconnected from their emotional and spiritual needs and may not realise or accept that they need help. They may tell themselves that they just “feel down” or “going through a rough patch” or that it’s “nothing they can’t handle”, when in fact they are just one step away from a major crisis.
The following statistics paint a more serious picture:
- 1 in 8 men in England have a common mental health problem
- Suicide rates in men are 3 to 4 times higher than in women
- Low levels of testosterone have been linked to depression, anxiety and mood swings, especially in men over 50
- Suicide is the largest cause of death for men under 50 in the UK
- 90% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 30 in the US are men
- 1 in 5 men in the USA develop alcohol dependency in their lifetime
Fortunately the stigma surrounding male’s mental health has started to dissipate. We now acknowledge that men also suffer from childhood traumas such as physical and sexual abuse, dysfunctional parenting and emotional neglect. We accept that men struggle at different times in their life adjusting to transitions, to changes in their physical or sexual power, in their emotions and spirituality. And we are more aware that ignoring these issues or procrastinating seeking help only makes things worse.
If you are feeling that something is not right, come and see me for a counselling session. I will help you look into what is bothering you and together we will figure out how to resolve the issues. Trust me, I know how it feels and how difficult it is, but it is worthy. Do it for yourself and for your loved ones.
Men Telling Stories
Men Telling Stories is a support group for men gathering in a safe environment where to talk authentically about matters of personal interest. The purpose is to create a space where we, as men, can tell and listen to our stories without feeling judged. It is a place to share and support each other, just because we need such spaces.
Nowadays there is a lot of judgement of men, and while some of it may be warranted, a lot of the criticism is misplaced or decontextualised. We need spaces to tell and explore our stories. To look into how we talk and treat our partners and how they talk and treat us. To discuss how we feel about having fingers pointed at us. To explore how we can make positive and healing contributions to ourselves and to our wounded society.
The purpose of Men Telling Stories is not to have group therapy sessions or 12-step programs or to tell men what they must do. These meetings aim to create a safe, supportive space, for men to share and relate authentically. You are welcome to come to these meetings if you want to find support or if you want to offer support to other men. This is a long-term project that we all build together, trying to create permanent support groups in the western Cape, as much as re-creating a culture of men’s gatherings that has sadly been lost, and is yet now more necessary than ever was.
The group meets every second week, on Thursdays, from 6pm to 8pm, and the gatherings are held at the freesouls premises. Attendance is free and contributions to cover expenses are appreciated. You are welcome to bring drinks or snacks to share, or just share what others bring. Please confirm your planned attendance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.