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Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month: Questions Arising on Its Existence and Importance

“Men are the breadwinners of the family, and they are the backbone of the society”. 

“Men are the best to take up community leadership, and religious leadership and they fit perfectly as political figures,” says our society.

Yet, as much as men hold significant positions in society, important details, such as days and months dedicated to appreciating and celebrating them, are very much neglected. A typical example is Mental Health Awareness Month”. 

“Is there really a month for men’s mental health awareness?” “Why should we observe the Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month?” “When is the Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month?” “What difference will the awareness of men’s mental health make, starting from the family, workplaces, religious institutions, and society at large?”

In this blog post, we’ll be looking at the meaning of men’s mental health, myths about men’s mental health, examples of men’s mental health issues, why we should collectively mark the Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month, and other deeper details you should know.

But first… 

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health refers to a state of emotional, psychological, and social well-being, which influences the cognition, perception, and general behavior of an individual. 

According to the World Health Organization, mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well, and work well.

The WHO further makes it clear that mental health is an integral component of health and well-being that strengthens our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships, and shape our world. 

In essence, you cannot commit fully to your other important life goals and missions if you do not have good mental health.

What Is Mental Health Awareness? 

Mental health awareness means promoting the importance of support for individuals who may be dealing with mental health issues.

Due to some misconceptions about mental health and well-being, people often suffer in silence without getting solutions to their mental problems. 

Note that mental problems are not limited to insanity alone.  

Mental health awareness helps us understand mental health issues and challenges,  giving us enough contextual understanding to accept and support others.

Why the Specifics, “Men’s Mental Health Awareness”? 

Questions arise from time to time as to why men’s mental health awareness is important and what exactly men’s mental health is.

In one of our previous blog posts on gender stereotypes, we highlighted how society dictates attributes that the male gender should exhibit in contrast to that of the female. 

In our society today, men are expected to bottle up their emotions to preserve their masculinity. “Real men don’t cry”, “real men don’t get depressed”, “real men don’t express their weaknesses”, and “real men don’t have fears”, are some of the erroneous and grossly generalized ways men have been pressured to stay silent about their deep-founded mental health issues. These far-from-ideal ideals are being passed from generation to generation. 

Our boys grow into men who are not in tune with their feelings and how such feelings, when accumulated over time, could impact their mental well-being,  leading to an increase in men’s mental health issues — which are often left unattended to. 

Men’s mental health awareness is aimed at reducing the stigma caused by gender stereotypes in our society. It creates an avenue for men to express themselves while society learns to accept their strengths and weaknesses based on individuality. 

Myths About Men’s Mental Health

Based on all we’ve examined earlier, you will agree that there are many misconceptions about men’s mental health. Here are some common men’s mental health myths: 

  • Men are not emotional 

Though it is believed by the majority that men are not emotional, some recent studies show that men are emotional.

It is proven through their responses to certain activities they engage in, such as watching their favorite sports or playing their favorite games. Men’s feelings are also expressed during significant events in their lives, such as weddings, childbirth, or the loss of a loved one.

  • Men don’t need therapy

In our society today, social stigma and gender roles prevent men from seeking professional help when they need such. This is even made worse in African societies where therapy is highly stigmatized. Yet, the stress and pressure men face from an early age and all around them make therapy a great recommendation for those struggling to stay above the water. Therapy is not a way to emasculate men. Men’s strengths should not be measured by whether they can avoid getting help when they need it. In fact, it is those who are brave enough to get help when they need it that should be considered strong men.

  • Alcohol helps men relax and open up about their feelings 

This is a very common myth, especially in Nigeria. Men are seen as vulnerable only when they are drunk, and this popular idea has misled most men. They’d rather drink than see a therapist, which is not meant to be so. This is not to debate whether or not men should drink. However, alcohol or any other form of substance abuse should never be seen as a replacement for professional healthcare and help.

  • There’s no point in talking about men’s mental health 

Since there are already lots of myths about men’s mental health, talking about it is considered meaningless. This is a myth that has done severe harm to society, as many men continue to suffer in silence, while masking their hurt and struggles behind pseudo-stoicism.

With these myths flying all around about men’s mental health, we can see yet another reason why it’s important to mark Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month through holistic activities that will help us reach and help men in our society, without them perceiving it as a way of emasculating them or injuring their egos.

Men’s Mental Health Statistics

African American man drinking alcohol

While it has failed to receive enough attention over the years, the issue of men’s mental health is a serious one. We are not just sitting in a fancy room to cook up all these stories.

Here are some curated statistics on men’s mental health that show the severity of the issue and why we should all start taking it seriously: 

The common patterns we can notice from these statistics are:

1. More men suffer from depression and other mental-health-related issues than we as society care to admit. All through life, there are societal perceptions of who a man should be and societal expectations of a man which are hardly realistic.

While many men may claim to be subscribed to the tenets of these expectations in public, no one can truly tell what they have to struggle through and battle with in private.

This is why it’s important for us as society to redefine our perceptions in a flexible and inclusive way and lower the unrealistic expectations we have of men.

2. We all pay for the unfriendliness of society towards men suffering from mental health issues. If 75% of deaths by suicide are by males, chances are that throughout your time on earth, a man you were related to or acquainted with died by suicide. And we are all complicit. 

Think about it: how have you reacted to your male friends who confided in you about their mental health issues or struggles? Did you laugh at them? Did you shrug off their concerns? Did you bury their voicing out in other issues? Did you secretly resent them? Did you downgrade their experience?

3. For every man you might have consciously or been conditioned to react negatively to their mental health issues, you gave them more reasons to not seek help or voice out, making them more likely to struggle until they no longer can.

Society needs to do better. All the figures in the statistics above are big numbers and percentages. They all point to one thing: there is still a lot to do as a society regarding men’s mental health. This awareness is just one of the many steps we need to take.

Examples Of Men’s Mental Health Issues

Men have struggles and battles with mental health issues too. Let’s take a look at some common men’s mental health issues. 

  • Anxiety and Depression 

“It is just a human condition”, the Men’s Resource Center Of West Michigan states. Anxiety and depression are conditions men can find themselves in. Feeling tense and worked up, rapid breathing, and sweating are different ways anxiety is expressed. It isn’t gender-specific. 

  • Emotional Suppression

Generally in our society, we know that men do not get as much emotional support as women do. Men are expected to be strong, resilient, and stoic, which is why they tend to suppress their emotions, leading to internal struggles, difficulties in maintaining healthy relationships, lack of communication, and lack of help when they need it.

  • Work-Life Balance

Managing work stress and being a good father and husband becomes more stressful when a man lacks a good father figure in his own life. Family dynamics, especially that of a man’s family of origin, influence their life a great deal in the long run and also it determine how they build their own family. 

The Origin Of Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month

When did the Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month begin? Who started it? You must be curious… Let’s learn! 

Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month dates back to May 24, 1994, when Kansas Senator, Bob Dole, introduced a bill that was passed by Congress to bring about early detection and treatment of health conditions in men. 

The bill was signed by President Clinton on May 31 and consequently, June 12 through 19, 1994 was declared as “National Men’s Health Week” in the United States. The marking of this men’s mental health awareness has quickly spread to other countries of the world like Nigeria.

When Is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month?

The Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month is June of every year, and within the same month, the International Men’s Health Week (IMHW) is observed between the 10th and 16th. 

The International Men’s Health Week started in 2002 when six men from different health organizations met at the 2nd World Congress on Men’s Health in Vienna, Austria and they were able to work together to launch International Men’s Health Week. 

The Importance Of Marking Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month

Marking Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month helps to increase the importance of men’s mental health and also reduces stigmatization against men with mental issues, and combat societal expectations putting undue pressure on men and boys.

If you pick up your phone to search now, you’ll find several posts with headings such as, “Men also cry” “Men can cry too” “Men get depressed too” and many other related topics. 

These topics are raised on social media due to several men’s mental health campaigns and marking events such as “International Mental Health Week” and “Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month”. 

While these campaigns often get kickbacks and backlash from some men who see them as an agenda to emasculate men, it’s vital to consider these themes as ways to normalize human characteristics among men, so that men who choose to not live by the unrealistic standards causing pressure for them would not be seen as lesser men than those who do.

Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month has also nudged some men to seek help and go for therapies when they are faced with mental health issues. This has helped to reduce substance abuse and suicide rates as well.

Things You Can Do To Amplify Men’s Mental Awareness

Men's Mental Health Awareness Month
Image Credit: Unsplash/Siviwe Kapteyn

The only means by which we can help increase awareness of Men’s Mental Health Month and also reduce several crises that occur due to the stigma caused by gender stereotypes is through the unique voice of each person.

As we know, results come faster when more hands are on deck, so bringing about this change of notions about men’s mental health starts with you. 

Here are things you can do to amplify men’s mental health awareness:

  • Encouraging communication about men’s mental health. You should talk openly and honestly about men’s mental health and motivate men to reach out when they need help.
  • Participation in men’s mental health campaigns. Joining hands together with organizations that campaigns for men’s mental health will go a long way to. Don’t just be a member, invite your friends to join you too.
  • Hosting educational programs. Both in school and in the community, programs that enlighten people about men’s mental health should always be held.
  • Legislative measures. The inclusion of the government will also give men’s mental health awareness a solid ground. Observing the International Mental Health Week and choosing at least a day in the men’s mental health awareness month will go a long way.
  • Providing accessible resources. Men can get timely support when resources are available. Mental health services such as counseling and therapy should be provided to help men maintain their mental health.

Our men — fathers, sons, brothers, uncles — deserve to live in a safe society with reduced pressures and zero stigmatization. We can give them this by taking part in creating awareness about men’s mental health. 

We should not limit our participation in creating awareness to just “Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month”, we should keep on enlightening both the young and old, men and women alike on the importance of men’s mental health. 

The desired change in our society for the safe living of our men starts with you.




Eniola Precious Ayoola is a student and a creative enthusiast. She expresses her creativity in writing and fashion design. She is interested in giving back to her community in anyway she can and serves as a member of Boys Without Borders’ Directorate of Media and Communication.

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