Janelle De Souza
Counseling psychologist Sule Joseph says that some people do not believe that men need recognition, believing that we live in a patriarchal society and men are already leaders and prominent figures in the world.
However, he said that recognizing men’s celebration days, such as International Men’s Day on November 19 each year, spoke to the emotional self, especially in these times when people expect men to be more in touch with their feelings.
International Men’s Day, launched in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teluxingh of TT, is a more recent addition to the list of international days of recognition.
According to the Awareness Days website, the day “celebrates the positive contributions and achievements of men, while addressing important issues affecting men’s health, well-being and gender equality”.
Joseph emphasized that international days were important because they were days of recognition and recognition was about feelings. So when people didn’t take the date seriously, they said men didn’t need that emotional support, perpetuating the misconception that men are disconnected from their emotional side.
“We’ve realized that there are other groups that need support and recognition, and we’ve supported them and they continue to grow. But I think it’s become a situation where, unintentionally, by trying to support other groups, we’ve indirectly moved away from supporting men and masculinity.
“The population psychology is that men are big and strong and they don’t need that, which implicitly feeds into the same toxic concept of masculinity that I disagree with about what a man should be; someone who is strong, who has no feelings or need for emotional support or recognition from others.”
He said that if society is trying to get men to accept and care for their emotional side, society needs to accept and recognize men’s contribution to it.
He gave the example of Mother’s Day vs. Father’s Day and the effort people put into celebrating. That effort, or lack thereof, suggested that men would do what they had to do without recognition because that was what men had to do.
He said no one asked if the men were afraid of rats or cockroaches, but they were expected to kill the creatures if they entered the house.
He believed that it was necessary to remove gender associations with emotions. She said that feelings are not just for women and everyone feels good when they are recognized. He added that some men are extremely emotional and because they have never been taught to deal with their emotions, they mask it with anger.
“I think not recognizing the emotional side of men is doing a lot of damage to gender relations and setting us back a few years.”
Internationally, men are twice as likely to act on suicidal ideation and are less likely than women to seek help, Joseph noted. As a result, she had not personally seen many men in her practice. However, he had seen several boys with suicidal thoughts over the years, and their motivation was the feeling that they could not live up to society’s expectations.
In general, men were expected to be successful and provide for their families, she said. They felt pressured to look, dress and act certain ways. And as the idea of masculinity becomes more fluid, some young men struggle to navigate.
“For guys now, even more than in the past, when you have a natural desire or drive to be competitive, or to be ‘alpha’ and high-functioning, and people are telling you that level of functioning is ‘toxic,’ then you can; question who you are.
“I could see where that kind of conflict could cause depressive issues, especially when men are now questioning whether the practices they thought were masculine are now unhealthy.”
She said that society asks a lot more of men who are less recognized for their efforts, and it’s stressful both emotionally and cognitively.
Counseling psychologist Nicolas Voisin agreed that modern expectations of masculinity can be confusing.
She said boys are not encouraged to talk about their feelings. They needed the support of boys their own age as well as emotionally mature men.
He said that, as was naturally done between women and girls, boys had to describe their feelings to grown men who would listen and give advice. They needed to learn more words to express what they were feeling so they could identify the emotion and figure out what to do with it.
He added that boys need mature, healthy men to look up to, even if that man hasn’t been in their lives all the time. It could be a teacher, coach, priest, or any other emotionally healthy man.
He said the idea of ”toxic” personality or attributes can be applied to anything, even behavior that might be considered inherently positive.
“It’s the concept of taking lines to the extreme when it’s not healthy for those who use it and the people around you. Thus, toxic masculinity is a version of masculinity that does not support or encourage men’s well-being or good mental health.
“It’s a hard and fast thing, with very rigid rules about what men can and can’t do, and those rules are at odds with what men really need. And it becomes quite unhealthy and destructive, not only for the man, but also for the people with whom the man deals.”
Although there were exceptions to each rule, in general, Voisin provided some characteristics of healthy masculinity.
He said that as the head of the family, men should not be dictators, but should listen and consider the feelings and ideas of others. He said they should witness without judgment and be encouraging rather than demoralizing or rejecting; create a safe space for their partner and children to be themselves; guide, support and encourage people; and be comfortable being vulnerable with their partner and children so they can see that they have feelings beyond anger.
He said these traits are learned. One could not simply see what they did not want to be and not be. They still needed an example of what to do, which is why boys and men need a mature, emotionally healthy male as a role model.
She said that nowadays women say they want men to be more in touch with their feelings, but when a man expresses those feelings, often the woman’s response is to either scold him or say what feels what it told about him and he had to do it. deal with her feelings as well. And it had to stop.
Voisin said depression is the most common factor in men’s suicidal ideation, triggered by feelings of helplessness, exhaustion or meaninglessness related to relationship breakups, financial problems, the death of a loved one and other emotional issues.
“Then there’s the ubiquitous depression without any specific input because men generally don’t take care of their mental health. Even within the structures of society, men do not have the same opportunities as women to attract resources for their mental health.”
According to the WHO 2021 report, men were twice as likely to die by suicide internationally: 12.6 per 100,000 men compared to 5.4 per 100,000 women.
561 suicide deaths were registered in IT between January 2018 and March 2023.
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