Today, November 19th is International Men’s Day. It is a day to celebrate the socio-economic, political and cultural achievements of men globally.
This includes men from marginalised communities such as trans men, disabled and neurodivergent men, and men from racial, ethnic and indigenous communities.
But is also a day to recognise the struggles that many men face and raise awareness of men’s issues such as toxic masculinity, mental health and the prevalence of male suicide.
This year the #InternationalMensDay2021 hashtag is putting a spotlight on men who are reaching out for support when they’re struggling. This is a very positive step in helping address men’s health.
The campaign also includes the hashtag #RealPeopleRealStories in which men tell their real stories about their personal struggles to encourage other men to speak up. It is a way of letting those men know that they are not alone.
Personally, my story is more related to my exposure to toxic masculinity and the ways it has held me back. Today, I write this while wearing leggings, something which I feel like everyone should embrace because they are super comfortable.
In fact, the clothing I wear actually makes me feel more comfortable because I’m no longer having to conform to the part of toxic masculinity that says men cannot wear women’s clothing. Clothing as a whole should have no gender anyway.
When men are pressured by society and the ‘manbox’ to suppress emotion, it becomes hard for them to reach out and ask for help. This has led many men to contemplate and commit suicide due to mental health problems. Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 50.
Today and every day, we should be learning the skills to start conversations about suicide, as well as mental health in general.
This year’s theme is better relations between men and women. Improving gender relations and promoting gender equality not only for men, but for women too.
My message to the men who are struggling, and find it hard to talk to doctors would be to seek emotional support from family and friends. If anything, it helps to open up the conversation and establish connections better.
Having emotions is part of being human, and to suppress them further only means we struggle when we need them.
Feature image credit: Pexels