Toxic masculinity: shaming men for seeking help

Stock image of a man via Getty Images.

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Stock image of a man via Getty Images.

Angel Ortega

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Shaming men for seeking and receiving mental health counseling and therapy reinforces toxic masculinity.

I hate the idea that a man must put on a tough-guy persona if they are going through a turbulent phase in their life. It’s commonly viewed that if a man even so much cries or shows some emotional vulnerability, they are viewed as weak.

This needs to stop. Men should be allowed to show emotion and seek counseling without the fear of social repercussions.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.

In 2017, men were 3.54 times more likely to die by suicide than women, and white men accounted for 69.67% of suicide deaths in the same year.

While people may argue that there needs to be severe reform in the U.S. health care system regarding mental health, I believe society should change how we perceive and approach mental health.

I consider myself a pretty sensitive man. I was susceptible to becoming emotional over small, trivial things as a child. However, I was always told “boys don’t cry” and “stop being a pussy,” as if I was in the wrong for being vulnerable and in all honesty, I believed I was in the wrong.

It wasn’t until my adolescence where I discovered the value of counseling and how much it helped me overcome inner demons. It helped me begin my journey in accepting who I am as a person.

When my grandmother passed away in July 2018, I was devastated. I considered her a second mother, so to lose someone so close for the first time truly took a mental toll on me. I lost interest in my passions, food lost its taste and life felt like a drag. I even considered taking a leave of absence from school.

When Travis Scott released his highly anticipated third album, “Astroworld,” my interest in life was reignited. I found a passion for my interests again, and I decided to go back to school that fall.

I was still struggling with accepting my grandmother’s death, though, once the semester began, but because of my ability to accept myself and allow myself to embrace emotional vulnerability, I made the effort to seek mental counseling because I didn’t want to become another statistic.

I consider myself lucky because not only have I found myself a safety net, I have a better understanding of my emotional capacity and intelligence.

Unfortunately, not many other men can say that they are in the same position and are therefore confined to society’s preconceived image of masculinity.

There are pieces of media that are challenging these ideas with movies like “Moonlight” and “Call Me by Your Name,” where the lead characters in both films are emotionally vulnerable men.

However, representation in media is not enough to disrupt toxic masculinity and I think much more social progress needs to be made if we want to see the number of male suicides decrease.

Angel Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AngelOrtegaNews.

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