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Masculine Voices in Silence: Men’s Mental Health and the Demand for Understanding

December 20, 2023
NY Times Emotions FINAL

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on the factors influencing the challenges in your life? Often, it’s the societal norms and stereotypes we collectively establish that play a significant role.

Society tends to label individuals based on gender, expecting them to conform to specific behavioural expectations tied to their respective gender. Traits like physical and emotional strength, resilience, and emotional stoicism are often assigned to define masculinity.

However, what if we were to redefine masculinity as simply being human?

As individuals, we all share universal emotions that transcend gender boundaries. While there is a continuous focus on raising awareness about the challenges women face, it’s crucial to acknowledge that men also grapple with issues they may not openly discuss. The hesitancy of men to express their emotions doesn’t signify weakness but reflects enduring societal expectations that have shaped the definition of masculinity for a significant period.

This narrow definition has cultivated a culture where men may feel compelled to suppress their emotions, leading to a silent struggle that often goes unnoticed. It is imperative to challenge these gendered norms and advocate for the idea that expressing emotions is a human experience, not limited by gender.

Contrary to the harmful myth that men do not face emotional challenges, the truth is that they struggle with unseen battles, contributing to a culture of silence. Acknowledging and understanding these struggles is a crucial step toward creating a more inclusive and empathetic society.

This silence can manifest in various mental health issues, ranging from anxiety to depression, as men navigate their emotions in isolation.

The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) has raised concerns about the lack of mental health services and awareness in Kashmir, contributing to alarmingly high suicide rates. Several news outlets have highlighted that suicide rates among men in Kashmir are several times higher than the national average, emphasizing the urgent need for mental health support.

A 2023 study published in ‘The Lancet Psychiatry’ journal revealed that suicide rates among men in India have surged by over 50% in the past three decades.

Men, just like women, experience a range of feelings that deserve acknowledgment and understanding. Breaking the silence surrounding men’s emotional struggles is pivotal for creating a society that embraces vulnerability, fosters empathy, and supports the emotional well-being of all its members. It’s time to redefine masculinity and establish a space where everyone feels empowered to share their emotions without hesitation or judgement.

Be the change you want to see in society.

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