CHILDLINE- for under-19s
Phone: Free on 0800 1111
Remember me? If you're viewing this page I (Craig) likely came to speak to you and your fellow students about The Story of Masculinity - the way in which our culture shapes the expectations we put on ourselves as men.
You hopefully received some info on various resources available to you in case you needed to contact someone as, as men, we aren't expected to ask for help and may not give ourselves permission to ask based on what others expect of us.
We need to work together to improve men's mental health - it's not our fault that men are suffering in this way, but it is our responsibility to do something about it.
So, take or leave whatever is useful for you on this page, including a recap of some of the issues we discusses and some videos I may have shared with you in your session.
Need to talk to someone?
Wherever you study, you should have a learning mentor, coach or Student Services you can go to if you just want someone to listen. Anything shared will be treated with confidence. Alternatively (or in addition) you might like to contact one of the following organisations or services:
CALM : Campaign Against Living Miserably
"Our helpline is for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support."
For: Males aged 15 to 35
Contact: Free phone 0800 58 58 58
Operating times: Daily, 5pm to midnight
For: Anyone "...if you require urgent care,
but it is not life-threatening."
Contact: Free phone 111
Operating times: All day, every day,
all year round.
"We're always open and are here to listen."
Contact: Free phone 116 123
Operating times: All day, every day,
all year round.
For: young people under-19
Contact: Free phone 0800 1111
Operating times: All day, every day, all year round.
Recap: What is your story of masculinity?
Let's briefly touch on some of the important issues. Remember, the workshop was not telling anyone how they should be as a man. The aim of having us talk openly is a space together is to encourage awareness of the messages we have received throughout our lives and on a daily basis which may influence how you think, feel and behave.
Take what is useful, leave what doesn't speak to you.
After all, it's your life!
It's your story!
What makes a successful man?
We asked this question and listed the common assumptions of how our culture thinks men (and women) should be. The list in EVERY workshop I run look something like the image you see here.
There was general agreement that it's positive for a man to take pride in what he does and to have responsibilities. However, we also acknowledged that the masculine list focuses more on how someone is seen from the outside. The feminine list focuses more on communication and understanding.
I invite you to ask yourself:
- Would I feel stronger if I understand my emotions better, communicated how I felt more clearly and felt safe to ask for any help I need?
- Do I expect to create and maintain a network of people that support me if I only try to be what's on the masculine list?
- Would being more in touch with my emotions help me to create the life that I want for myself and my loved ones?
What is the state of men's mental health?
Based on studies from The Mental Health Foundation we understand that:
- Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20-49 years in England and Wales.
- Of all suicides over 75% (three quarters) were men in 2017.
Also, in a report by Samaritans, we understand:
- Men compare themselves against a masculine ‘gold standard’ which prizes power, control and invincibility. Having a job and providing for the family is central to this, especially for working class men.
- When men believe they are not meeting that standard they feel a sense of shame and defeat.
- More than women, men respond to stress by taking risks or misusing alcohol and drugs.
- Generally, many men across all social classes are reluctant to talk about emotions.
- Men can experience a ‘big-build’: they don’t recognise or deal with their distress, but let it build up to breaking point.
- Men are far less positive about getting formal emotional support for their problems, compared to women. When they do, it is at the point of crisis.
What influences our thoughts and behaviours?
Once we acknowledged that there are some expectations of men (and women) we looked at where these expectations may have come from such as:
- People in your personal life (family, friends)
- Film and Television
- Social Media
Your digital world
Whether you're on your SMART phone or tablet, watching television, at the cinema or even walking through your town or city or standing at a bus stop - it can be easy to forget just how often we're receiving messages from other people, especially through screens!
Here are a some adverts. I haven't chosen these examples because I think the adverts of products should be banned or avoided (I love a good Bond film) but instead to invite us to consider whether similar messages are repeated in LOTS of adverts, flms, TV shows, are they 'just an advert' or could there be a wider picture building up about a man should be? If we're not encouraged to be in touch with our emotions, could we take on such messages as attitudes that will make us happy?
Here are some other questions you might like to ask yourself:
- In the Paco Rabanne advert, what messages are given about the status of the man and woman i.e. who has power here?
- James Bond is a global icon. How does he treat women? How does he express emotion, if at all?
- In the Lynx and Gillette advert, there are very different sides to men being shown. How do these two adverts make you feel?
- Can you see how such adverts cause a backlash as trying to emasculate men (make men for feminine)?
Let's change the story!
So, why is it important we know all this?
Because we need to know we are not alone.
The story of masculinity - the story that tells us we can only be accepted if mwe are a certain way - has been hurting men for generations. Once we acknowledge this story is there, we can start to be more aware that some ways we think, feel and behave have come from this unrealistic story. A story that we can change!
So, how can we start doing that?
- Know you're not alone: Look to people in your own life who are open about their mental health that . Or look for people in the public eye as there are a lot more men publicly opening up about mental health, like these guys... 11 times famous men spoke up about mental health and made it easier for others to get help
- Ask for help: Not easy as most men have not been encouraged to ask for the support they need. But trust how brave it is to ask a friend or family member we trust - or to call a support line (listed above, click here) - then this is a small yet hugely-significant step.
- Be honest with yourself: How do you feel right now? Even if you feel fine, do you admit to yourself when you're feeling low? Being authentic - truly honest with yourself - means you have more information about yourself. If you don't feel comfortable asking for help right now maybe taking a step back and looking at your life would help. This Self-Assessment can help you see how you feel right now about certain areas of your life. This may make it clearer where you want to make changes.
- Help others by listening: Don't worry that you're not a counsellor - a lot of the time we just need to be able to say what's on our mind and feel listened to. Stress is part of life - keeping things bottled up doesn't have to be.
If you're living in a story of masculinity that's not working for you the important thing to remember is:
It's not your fault...
...but it is your responsibility to do something about it!
And also, you are not alone! You never were and you never will be.
How do you feel about
your life, right now?
Click here to take a self-assessment