It’s impossible to get through the day without noticing the pressures placed upon everyone to conform to the roles society deems acceptable for us to fulfil. However, whether it’s an innocent joke about a man wearing a pink shirt; a watch advert starring a snappily-dressed model with arms bulging through his shirtsleeves or even the enduring preoccupation with hyper-masculine figures such as James Bond, it’s impossible to deny the way in which men are conditioned into believing there’s only one way to be a ‘real man’. Though times are changing, this pressure has led to a huge increase in the number of men suffering from issues including negative self-image, depression and anxiety.
Perhaps the largest pressure placed upon young men is that of living up to the standard masculine ideal; that of somebody who is ‘physically strong, emotionally tough, resourceful’, who never cries or talks about how he feels and sometimes indulges in displays of violence to prove his masculinity. Though this is a pressure which affects men of all ages, it is especially prevalent amongst those aged 18 to 34, with 47% feeling under pressure to be manly. Heartbreakingly, 58% of all men feel that society expects them to hide any weakness, whilst 57% feel compelled to present as emotionally strong. This also affects confidence around relationships, with 52% of men believing that they will be more successful in finding a partner if they behave in a ‘masculine’ manner.
The perpetuation of this stereotype through sports and advertising campaigns leads to men bottling up their emotions and suffering in silence. 45% of 18-34-year-old males avoid talking about mental health, as they fear this will make them appear less ‘manly’ – yet 77% recognise that talking is an effective way of dealing with problems, and 43% wish they could talk more about their problems. However, 45% of men have regretted opening up about issues, as they felt they weren’t taken seriously. In the UK alone, 12 men die of suicide every day; there is always a solution to the problems which lead men to take their own lives and it is imperative that we act for change now.
This is where organisations such as Movember can help, with their research into and support of charities and organisations aiming to end the concept of the ‘man box’ and make life easier for men struggling with their mental health. Despite it gradually becoming easier for men to feel it is acceptable to discuss their problems, the fact that one man takes his own life every minute around the world means that there is still much more that needs to be done. It is absolutely unacceptable that in today’s society suicide is still the most common cause of death for men under the age of 44, and that men account for the shockingly high statistic of 75% of all suicides. As well as funding research for prostate and testicular cancer, which are causes for many premature deaths amongst men, Movember aims to reduce the rate of male suicide by 25% by 2030.
Whether you choose to grow a moustache, to run or walk60km throughout the month for the 60 men lost to suicide every hour across the world or host a ‘Mo-ment’ – a fundraising activity such as a dinner party held in order to raise funds for Movember – whatever you raise will mean a huge amount and help to reduce premature male deaths sooner.
You can find out more about the organisation here: https://uk.movember.com/?home