OPINION: Normalize talking about men’s mental health


Photo credit/ Jennifer Flynn

Opinion Editor Maddie Adams thinks men’s mental health needs to be discussed more.

In February, Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman announced that he checked himself into a hospital to receive treatment for clinical depression. A statement released by Fetterman’s office on Feb. 28 stated, “John is doing well, working with the wonderful doctors, and remains on the path to recovery.”

The language used in the statement sounds like the same kind of language that would be used in the case of a physical illness, which is exactly how it should be. Mental health should be talked about with the same level of empathy and understanding as physical health is talked about.

Fetterman displayed courage and self-compassion by recognizing his need for mental health treatment, but unfortunately not all men feel encouraged or comfortable speaking about their mental health struggles.

According to Mental Health America, men are less likely than women to seek help for mental health struggles and substance abuse due to societal norms and reluctance to speak about these issues.

The Mayo Clinic explains that depression in men may not be diagnosed because of a failure to recognize the signs, downplaying symptoms or resistance to mental health treatment because of social stigmas.

There is a clear connection between a lack of conversation about mental health amongst men and a culture of toxic masculinity.

According to Dictionary.com, “toxic masculinity” is defined as, “a cultural concept of manliness that glorifies stoicism, strength, virility, and dominance, and that is socially maladaptive or harmful to mental health.” This way of thinking leads men to believe that it is somehow “weak” to express, display, or discuss emotions.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that masculinity is inherently toxic or contributes to a reluctance to talk about mental health, but the way in which masculinity is represented in stereotypical social gender roles can perpetuate a reluctance among men to talk about mental health.

Regardless of gender, conversations about mental health can be stigmatized. Like other invisible conditions, mental health conditions are often not taken as seriously as they should be taken because the signs and symptoms are not always obvious to people.

In order to destigmatize mental health, we can start by simply talking about it. If a friend or family member opens up about their mental health, even if you don’t know what to say, you can always listen compassionately. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone who is struggling mentally is to listen and then direct them to resources that can help. By listening to others with an open mind and an open heart, we can start to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Call 911 if someone is in immediate danger
Call 988 to be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Text “PA” to 741741 to chat with an operator from the Crisis Text Line
Call 211 to reach the United Way and get connected with resources near you
Call 570-348-6100 for the Scranton Counseling Center
Call 570-348-6245 for Marywood’s Counseling/Student Development Center or email at [email protected]

Contact the writer: [email protected]