Men and Women Perceive Mental Health Differently

Aisha Ayub and Ayesha Mustafa, Reporters

There’s no doubt that women are more emotional or open with how they feel. But, there’s also no doubt that men feel the need to conform to societal standards, by hiding their emotions. They fear being called “weak,” similar to women who are judged for their transparency. Our society, has imposed a wide range of ideals by which they believe defines a woman’s role versus a man’s. Mental health has always been a sensitive subject, but how each gender perceives it needs to be addressed.

From our childhood to our adolescence days, we are trained to act a certain way based off who we are. Men for instance, from a young age, are designated the role of masculinity and are expected to have to cover up anything they might feel emotionally. Their whole lives have been dictated by “man up” and “be strong” in an effort to conceal even the thought of them being emotionally scattered. This problem makes it very difficult for a guy to admit they are indeed struggling. Our culture doesn’t always leave space for men to express inner struggle. According to Dr.David Plans, “We train soldiers and professional warriors, and then expect them to be emotionally intelligent enough to open up when they need help. Worse, we expect them to *never* need help.” This makes it quite clear that vulnerability shouldn’t be seen as inferior, rather should be incorporated as a core principal of emotional strength. The messages we send to men in their childhood is received throughout their adulthood as well, and then discourages them from ever opening up about any issues they might have.

Unlike men, who are trained to hide behind a wall when it comes to whatever they may be dealing with, women are on the opposite side of the spectrum. Quite often, it is noticed that women seem to be more comfortable with their emotions and feelings. Of course, fear is integrated in this sensitive subject, but it is no lie that women are more aware and open about their mental health. Maybe men would be open too if society didn’t impose their standards on everyone, and maybe this notion comes from the nurturing or emotional characteristic society has given to women. Ultimately, for some reason there’s a bit more stigma attached to mental health when it comes to men. It’s not that more women deal with mental health related issues, rather the matter at hand is that men are required to ignore any symptoms. Men can’t ask for help, because that’s considered “petty” or “unmanly.” They’re structured to stay strong no matter what, but women on the other hand can seek help, because its apparently “engraved” in their nature.

Overall, with time comes change. Over the past several years, there’s been growing activism and interest around the subject of mental health, especially in relation to men. Accessing mental health resources can seem to go against the cultural expectations for men, but it is important that we speak up and fight the taboo around it, for the sake of our future generations. Just recently, FDR hosted its first The Lounge meeting, in which this gray area became extremely apparent. There were definitely more females then males in attendance, because no males at all showed up. Everyone is welcome to join if they are interested in learning how to manage stress and explore more about mental health in general. It’s time that gender does not monitor how we should, or should not, feel. We all have bad days, and its okay to have them, and even more important to acknowledge them regardless of our gender.