Nashville, Tennessee – As you grow up, you’ll hear the expression “scrub the dirt” or “suck” when trying to express your emotions through pain, sadness, or fear.
For some, these expressions are passed down from previous generations as a way to encourage men to be strong and resilient.
From an early age, men are often forced to repress and express emotions that are quite different from women, and this can lead to emotional problems.
Men feel the same emotions as women, but traditionally only express emotions that are more acceptable to society. Because men often experience their emotions more restrictively, it can become more difficult to stop learning and develop emotional awareness as they age.
“Men don’t often touch on mental health or talk about their emotions, so having a conversation that hasn’t been exposed before can be scary and unfamiliar territory,” she said. Dr. Shane Kuhlman, Chief Psychology Officer at Centerstone Institute, said.
While it can be uncomfortable for men to pay attention to their emotions, expressing emotions also has great benefits. It helps us connect more with other areas of our lives,” says Kuhlman. Mental health and emotional expression can have a positive impact on men through better relationships with loved ones, reduced symptoms of emotional distress, and improved performance at work and at home.
Men’s mental health awareness is improving, but the conversation is still stigmatized. Emotions are not tied to any gender, so it may be harmful to assume that men who are more emotionally sensitive and expressive than others are weaker. They often face barriers that continue to reflect the expressions they were taught at an early age.
For example, it is often reported that some men have difficulty finding male therapists, and that men of color have a particularly difficult time finding therapists of color.
Recognizing these challenges, there are several ways to reduce stigma around mental health treatment and promote emotional expression.
- understand. Notice and acknowledge changes in your loved one. Men may not know when and how they are influencing themselves and others. Try to identify the problem and provide a solution through mental health care. Vulnerability can be difficult, but reassure men that you are there for them.
- communication. “Men are less likely to report symptoms of depression, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t experienced it,” says Kuhlman. Allows you to have open lines of communication. Check in daily to see how they are feeling. Be sure to validate the man’s feelings and experiences throughout this process.
- process. Sometimes it is not easy for men to talk to their loved ones. One of the best tools to help men become more aware of the depth of their emotions and find new languages to tune into them is to seek mental health treatment. Not all therapists are right for you, so encourage men to try until they feel comfortable.
Remember that emotions are part of life, and feeling and expressing them is a strength, not a weakness.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, a center stone can help. For more information on counseling services, call 1.877.HOPE123 (1.877.467.3123).