Speaking Mental Health
Forward Times Mental Health Advisors
Generally speaking, society has molded men into thinking that they should be strong providers for their families and not show emotions. Eventually, this may manifest and become the reason they have difficulties in expressing their thoughts and feelings. Hiding true feelings can become exhausting and frustrating, leading to more emotional and psychological issues. It is sometimes difficult for some men to find their way dealing with the struggles of life and adjusting their behavior. Mistaking masculinity for mental health keeps some men in emotional turmoil and isolation.
Feeling like they do not have a voice and must remain masculine by not showing emotions leaves the door open to increased anxiety, depression, and many times, aggression. Seeking a mental health professional may help men find useful ways to navigate these feelings and feel more at ease with themselves. Young men are crying out for help through their obvious disruptive behaviors but are unlikely to seek professional help for various reasons. Many cultural norms dictate what is masculine and who should seek therapy and these influences weigh heavily on who seeks therapy and when.
Men who seek professional mental help show more masculinity by admitting that they need guidance just as they would if they needed to see a medical doctor for a physical issue. Not only will they improve their quality of life and increase their own happiness, but they also set a positive example for other men and boys with whom they interact. This creates a new cycle of “norms” in mental health – something that is rare in the Black community.
At some point, Black men should channel their masculinity to being true to themselves and practicing self-care. This is definitely not to say that women should not do the same but there is a huge difference in the number of men and women who seek therapy. The stigma of mental health affects the Black community as a whole, but we see a large number of men and boys who find it difficult to embrace their sensitive sides, protecting the alpha-male image, and feeling trapped within themselves.
I encourage everyone to reflect on what brings you happiness and define what masculinity truly is. Find a trustworthy person to begin this critical conversation and explore ways to increase your quality of life. Seek professional help to explore how you may incorporate masculinity in your lives while finding ways to express your emotions at the same time.
Dr. Angela M. Powell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Progressive Counseling & Consulting, LLC., specializing in youth trauma, anxiety, and depression.