By Scott Bragg, LPC, CAADC
Masculinity, or gender traits of being a man, is a debatable topic. Some features of masculinity are tied to the opinions of others. Where as, other traits are based on biological features of each person. Men vary in the extent of their gender traits. These differences can affect the health of boys and men.
Here are three factors that affect men’s health as they navigate masculinity.
1. Men struggle with naming feelings.
Guys struggle in finding the words for their emotions. The struggle makes it harder to deal with painful feelings. After all, one of the first steps in handling emotions is naming them.
2. Men have a hard time living up to perceived role.
Men may get stuck in living up to standards that are set for them. For example, this may occur if men aren’t athletic or have difficulty speaking up. Traits such as courage, strength, and dominance are often expected for men. Therefore, gaps between expectations and one’s reality can lead to lower self-esteem and other issues.
3. Men are less likely to get help for their problems.
Unfortunately, men are less apt to seek treatment for sadness, worry, and other issues. Messages from society, learned values, and a fear of the unknown are common factors. Guys could become aggressive, show more anger, or exhibit violence when failing to deal with problems as well. Men have higher suicide rates, worse physical health, and an shorter lifespan than women. These outcomes have occurred partly due to men’s reluctance to address their mental health.
The factors listed only tell part of the story for men. Masculinity is not necessarily a negative quality of a man’s life. However, it can be toxic, if it leads to some of the problems listed above. Also, masculinity and gender norms are an evolving topic. Many have identified as transgender or non-binary, for example. Still, positive steps have been taken as mental health treatment has been encouraged more for men. Hopefully more men will continue to seek help for depression, anxiety, stress, and other issues.
Valuable resource: https://www.apa.org/about/policy/boys-men-practice-guidelines.pdf
(focus on pages 1-4)