Societies worldwide uphold different expectations for boys and girls. From a very young age, little boys tend to receive the message that crying or asking for help are signs of weakness. The idea that men should always act tough and avoid displaying any emotions can be tremendously harmful to their mental well-being and can have severe societal repercussions, which is how it earned the name “toxic masculinity.” What is this widespread phenomenon, and how does it impact men’s mental health?
Toxic Masculinity Defined
While there are many definitions of what toxic masculinity entails, it generally consists of these three components.
- Stubbornness: Many men believe it’s essential to be physically strong and emotionally unavailable.
- Antifeminism: This concept refers to the idea that men should reject any “feminine” characteristics, such as caring for others and admitting when they need help.
- Power: This philosophy involves an inherent assumption that men must obtain a high social and financial status to earn others’ respect.
How Common Are Men’s Mental Health Issues?
June is Men’s Health Month, which makes it the ideal opportunity to explore men’s health issues, especially their unique mental and emotional needs. Despite the prevalence of issues like depression, anxiety and PTSD among men, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that men are less likely to seek help than women. According to the most recent data from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men tragically died of suicide nearly four times more often than women in 2019, with white men accounting for almost 70% of all suicide deaths.
Among the myriad issues associated with toxic masculinity, perhaps the most insidious is that it discourages men from getting mental health treatment when they need it. Toxic masculinity may make men subscribe to the outdated stigma that depression, anxiety and other mental health problems are weaknesses, instead of genuine concerns requiring medical intervention.
In addition to causing men to reject much-needed preventive treatment, toxic masculinity also encourages unhealthy behaviors such as substance abuse, reckless driving and working out despite injuries.
Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Masculinity
Toxic masculinity perpetuates the unhelpful belief that men should not talk about their emotions. As a result, men are less likely to speak up about struggles with their mental health, including suicidal thoughts and ideas. The stigma that men with disorders such as depression should be able to “man up” and snap out of it sets a dangerous precedent. In many cases, self-isolation and an unwillingness to undergo professional treatment prove to be a tragic combination, leading to substance use disorders or even death.
There’s a direct correlation between the amount of time spent in treatment and successful recovery outcomes. At Vista Taos, our men’s-only extended care facility, Casa Feliz, provides a safe, structured environment where you can focus fully on your sobriety goals. You’ll have the opportunity to concentrate on the progress you want to make while immersing yourself in the Taos community, which has historically been a restorative center for spirituality.