Emotions are a natural part of a person; sadness, crying, happiness, they are all normal states that a person can find themselves in. The issues surrounding men and their mental health is lacking the awareness and support it requires, which arguably stems from a deep notion that men should not show their emotions, especially during times of difficulties. This is an aspect that becomes instilled within individuals to the extent that when a serious mental health problems arise, seeking help becomes a difficulty. The individuals in the life of a man, unexpectedly, feed the problem. Changes in behaviour, anger and fluctuating attention span may be seen as problems within a relationship as opposed to a mental health problem.
A widespread cultural phenomenon is one which leads us to believe showing any signs of sadness or upset is in line with being weak. Weakness is associated with being unmasculine; in order to upload masculinity, feelings and emotions during poor mental health are suppressed. This only leads to further problems given appropriate help is not sought. Among reasons why men may suppress their feelings and thoughts, is the idea of providing a foundation for their family. The role of a man is to be the breadwinner and provide sustenance to his wife and children. This same concept can be a factor that drives a person to seek help when necessary; by ensuring the foundation remains strong, it provides a better platform for a family to stay strong. By ignoring these issues it puts added strain on an individual and their family in the exact way that they are attempting to prevent.
When suffering from a physical illness we are quick to ensure we seek the relevant medication, particularly because those around us see our pain and disability; being unable to function physically results in events cancelled, loss of earnings, less time spent on enjoyable activities and so forth. We strive to maintain a routine in our lives and stability to those around us. Yet, with mental health issues, particularly in early stages, there is scope to hide and suppress the reality towards others. Admitting you have a problem will lead to that stability being shook; why shake your world if nobody else but you can visualise or feel the problem that is brewing?
In this day, to see a man crying can be thought of as him demonstrating weakness, or due to a really huge intense event taking place. Looking to the Prophet (saw) we see that he shed tears in numerous situations:
Narrated Anas bin Malik:
The Prophet (ﷺ) had informed us of the death of Ja`far and Zaid before the news of their death reached us, and his eyes were shedding tears.
The best man that walked this earth shed tears upon hearing of death. He shed tears when hearing the Qur’an be recited, when passing by graves, when making dua, in salah and in times of happiness. He showed his emotions in these times, so where do we get this notion that a man should be a statue with no demonstration of his feelings? This is an oppression upon the creation of Allah; Allah placed emotions within us all, male or female, and we should not act in ways that are to pretend otherwise. An individual should be balanced in their emotions, not crying unnecessarily or laughing excessively. However, in times of difficulty where the mind is not calm, these emotions needs to be demonstrated for the sake of the individual. By suppressing emotions to this extent is nothing but damaging to oneself in both physical, mental and spiritual sense.
Cultural expectations state a man to be a strong provider and to sustain those who he is responsible for. The only true way to fulfil this role is to ensure you do your best to maintain both your physical and mental health. How would you suggest a male balances his emotions?