Modern men are facing unique – and increasingly fatal – problems.
Several public health issues have to do with men. Men are killing themselves three to four times more than women, they’re more homeless, they’re more addicted, prisons are full of men who’ve got mental health problems, they’re underachieving in education and men are dying and having accidents at work much more often, and they die younger.
There’s a universal pressure on men to not show weakness and to be strong. We’re trying to paint a picture that if you seek help you are being a man; you’re taking control and being strong. We need to help men not feel ashamed and to keep their dignity. “If men are alone in a room they are tremendously good at supporting each other; they’re like soldiers in combat that really care for each other. So we realized that a men’s group is a really powerful space.” –said senior psychologists of the British Psychological Society. There’s a massive resistance to this, despite there being a very real need. “If you talk about the needs of men, you’re made to feel like an unreconstructed Neanderthal.”
“Three rules of masculinity” have become the cornerstones of clinical work with men:
- Be a fighter and a winner
- Be a provider and a protector
- Retain mastery and control
If you break any of those, you don’t feel like a man. So if you don’t have a job, for a woman that’s awful, but if man doesn’t have a job he doesn’t feel he can provide or protect – so he’s lost his masculinity. That’s probably why the suicide rate for the unemployed is greater for men. This isn’t genetic: we are biologically evolved as male.
Men don’t need to ‘man up’ and they don’t need to ‘woman up.’ We need to allow men to be men and honor that, on their terms.