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How Gender Stereotypes Affect Men’s Mental Health

We all know that stereotyping can be extremely harmful, and that holds true when it comes to men’s mental health in relation to gender stereotypes. A huge, impactful stereotype that has been regurgitated throughout many eras of American society is that men should not be emotional because it shows a falter in their masculinity. This way of thinking is outdated and wildly dangerous. With the combined pressure put on them from society and themselves, men and their mental health have been, and continue to be at risk due to this archaic mindset that has been allowed to persist into this century. 


In a study completed in affiliation with the Department of Psychology at Stanford University, it is suggested that “men tend to blunt the reporting of possible symptoms of mood disorders perhaps because such symptoms are inconsistent with dominant notions of masculinity” [1]. With this proposal, it shows how men feel pressure from harmful stereotypes about masculinity that have persevered for so long. Due to the way many men ignore, or are told to ignore, what could be serious mental health conditions, there is a lack of necessary help and support, whether it be professional or familial. 


Men are, of course, not the only ones who feel the pressures from society to ignore their emotions or mental health. This pressure is felt by all people, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, etc. However, “North American research consistently indicates that men make up around 75% of suicide and 75% of substance use disorder (SUD) cases” [1]. A big part of this may be due to the stereotypes surrounding men and masculinity. Furthermore, “research indicates that societal sympathy is particularly lacking for men with mental health issues” [1]. Basically, people are more likely to view women who struggle with their mental health with more sympathy than men who struggle with their mental health. 


To keep things simple, gender stereotypes surrounding men and masculinity have been and continue to be dangerously harmful to men’s mental health. As a society, we need to do better at working toward abolishing these stereotypes so they no longer hold the power they have been given for so long. 




References:

1. Affleck W, Carmichael V, Whitley R. Men’s Mental Health: Social Determinants and Implications for Services. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2018;63(9):581-589. doi:10.1177/0706743718762388


 

Contributors:

Author: Lauryn Agron

Editor: Kayjah Taylor

Health scientist: Catherine Sarwat


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