Social media has been an important tool for ending the stigma around mental health. With hashtags such as #HereForYou and calls to action like the #InsideOutChallenge, there has never been more support or awareness for those who live with mental illness.
That's why on International Men's Day on Nov. 19, the internet decided to continue the conversation by calling attention to men's mental health, which is often overlooked by the media and those close to those living with a mental illness.
#InternationalMensDay is important because:
• Men are 3 times more likely to take their own lives that women
• 2,300 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer each year
• 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year
• 96% of sexual attacks on men go unreported— Jonny Sharples (@JonnyGabriel) November 19, 2017
76% of all suicides are by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death for men under 35. Yet, men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. We need to break the stigma and end the silence. Do not 'Man Up', it's time to talk. #InternationalMensDay— Jodie💃🏽 (@JodieVolunteers) November 19, 2017
So it is #InternationalMensDay— Andrien Gbinigie (@EscoBlades) November 19, 2017
Rather than making the (easy) joke about the above, maybe let's encourage men to talk about some issues.
- Male suicide rates
- Emotions are valid and you are allowed to feel and express them
- Body image issues
Using the hashtag #InternationalMensDay, many users shed light on the alarming statistics of men's mental health. In Canada specifically, one in 10 men will experience major depression in their lifetime and men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. That's why it's never been more important to encourage men to open up.
However, in the tweets, many also noted that the biggest barrier to doing this is breaking down society's idea of masculinity, which considers emotional men to be less than. Because of this gender stereotype, harmful phrases such as "Be a man" and "Don't act like a girl" have become common and perpetuate the idea that men shouldn't have emotions.
#InternationalMensDay not because we're men, but because our mental health isn't taken as serious. All mental health is important regardless of gender, but when we're told that "men shouldn't cry or feel " it does far more damage than good.— DarthReptile (@MrRepzion) November 19, 2017
"To succeed in hiding your feelings from others also requires hiding them from yourself, either by ignoring or denying their existence," Shrira wrote. "As a result, masculinity often means not being comfortable with your emotions and having less self-awareness about your own mental functioning."
The correlation between suppressing emotions and bad mental health is clear, which is why many Twitter users also shared messages of support to remind men that both they and their feelings are valid.
Happy #InternationalMensDay remember:— Yamariee (❛ε❛") (@lady_yamarie) November 19, 2017
- single dads, you are doing great
- trans men, you're valid
- men suffering mental illness, you're amazing
- gay men, you're beautiful
- all men, don't be afraid to show your feelings or to be proud of who you are! You're important!!
sending love today & always to guys who are told to "toughen up", to "deal with it", to "be a man" when they are in a dark place. we expect men to be fearless and to hide their pain. it's not a coincidence that men commit suicide 3.5x more than women. 💔 #InternationalMensDay— Laci Green (@gogreen18) November 20, 2017
Men are good.— Amy Curtis (@RantyAmyCurtis) November 19, 2017
Men are necessary.
Men are wonderful.
Masculinity isn't toxic. #InternationalMensDay
Despite the number of studies that prove social media is bad for your mental health, a 2017 study conducted by Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation found that it can actually help people with mental health issues.
According to the survey, which included more than 3,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24, 84 per cent of young people use social media to connect with others facing similar struggles, and 77 per cent used the platforms to find personal stories and advice.
It's nice to know that mental health campaigns such as the one on #InternationalMensDay do make a difference.
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