“Boys Don’t Cry”= Men Suffering in Silence

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, June 05, 2024
By coralgables_admin

By Cristina Ferreira, RMFTI, RMHCI

There is often a big misconception when it comes to men’s mental health. The idea that men don’t struggle with their mental health or that they have less risk than their female counterparts is simply not true. The reality is mental health disorders do not discriminate. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. Men struggle with their mental health, just as anyone else. However, due to the external messages received from society, culture, and parents, “Boys don’t cry”, young boys and men are taught to internalize those feelings.

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Although mental health is less stigmatized in today’s society and more openly talked about, men still find it difficult to open up. Can we blame them? Young boys are taught to “man up” when they express any emotions, and in turn, receive a message that their feelings don’t matter. Or that having feelings makes them weak or less than. As a result, there is a discrepancy in research and statistics as not all men who struggle with their mental health seek professional help and go undiagnosed and untreated.

So how do they cope? The only way they know how. Rough play, fighting, pushing, etc.
But “boys will be boys…” right? Talking about feelings is for girls.

Growing up with two brothers in a Hispanic household, I saw how these external messages and pressure influenced the way my brothers coped with their feelings and handled conflicts. When the boys would argue, it would turn physical, sometimes even violent… and then, like nothing ever happened. With me, it was never like that. I would cry and express myself, which I can now understand made them feel uncomfortable, as this was not natural for them. How could we have such different ways of being and thinking when we were raised in the same household by the same parents? My parents, just like their parents, were raised this way and unaware of the impact these expectations on gender can have, they relayed those messages to us.

My intention is not to blame or criticize, but rather to bring awareness. In 2021, the 11th leading cause of death was suicide and the rate for men was 4x higher than the rate for women (National Institute of Mental Health).

So, today and every day, let’s make sure the men in our lives know their feelings matter. We care.
It’s okay to have big feelings. It’s ok to express and share those feelings.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. There is strength in vulnerability.

Let’s normalize checking in on the men in our lives and reminding them they are loved, their feelings matter, and they are supported.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts or ideations, please reach out to # 911 for life-threatening emergencies, #211 for Crisis Hotline, or #988 for Suicide & Crisis Hotline.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“In the journey of mental health, therapy becomes the roadmap, guiding us through the twists and turns of self-discovery, empowering us to rewrite our stories with resilience and authenticity.”
Cristina Ferreira, RMFTI, RMHCI

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