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To the Sweet Boys of the World: Men’s Mental Health

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Do you ever wish you could just take people’s pain away? That it physically hurts to breathe, knowing they are suffering internally?

I had a very close friend of mine tell me that he feels like he’s “suffocating.” I look at him with the utmost respect and love and I wish I could just make him breathe again. 

Women’s mental health is always talked about. Our health is always the first topic of discussion when someone talks about mental disorders or suicide, but what about men? Men need our help and we have failed them. “Good mental health is as important as oxygen” (Greene 2018). Remember how I mentioned suffocation? Our men’s mentality is not talked about and we need to stop it before it’s too late. 

If they cry, they’re weak. If they see a therapist, they’re weak. If they need medicine, they’re weak. Sometimes men don’t always show the “basic signs” of depression, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

My friend I mentioned? I call him my “sweet boy,” because that’s who he is. He’s the sweetest person I have ever known. I met my friend when we were teenagers in a small culinary class and little did I know, he would have an effect on me forever. We fell in love when we were 18, and without searching, found each other again at 19 and fell even harder. No matter how much love there is in our hearts for one another, it’s not enough if there’s no love for ourselves first. 

“Depression can’t be willed away. It’s a serious mental health condition that affects a man’s daily life, including the way he eats, sleeps, feels and thinks. It can also affect his ability to work, go to school, and maintain relationships with friends and family. Depression is NOT a sign of weakness, and it can affect any man, regardless of his age and race or ethnicity,” (Greene 2018)

Greene is right. Depression is not a sign of weakness. The first step towards your journey is recognizing that you have these problems. I looked at my friend and all I saw was someone who needs to know how much he is loved. Looking at me with sorrow and inferiority; I cupped his face and said, “I love you.”

I know it takes more than a few words to make someone’s problems go away, but I hope that it made him feel more comfortable and safe. 

“Although mental illnesses are more prevalent in women than in men, men suffering from mental illnesses are less likely to receive mental health treatment or diagnosis. There are many reasons for this, and one of them is the pressure men face to “man up” or “tough it out.” The stigma of men speaking out is that it is seen as a form of weakness or not “manly.” (ADAA). 

Without the proper diagnosis and recognition of these issues, can lead to drug or alcohol abuse or even suicide. 

When I was younger, I suffered from suicidal ideations, such as a plan and attempts. It was more socially acceptable for me as a woman to experience these things, as this is always what is talked about: Women’s mental health. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the mentality of women, but we have to make sure we equally talk about the mentality of a man and accept it just as much. 

At a very young age, my late grandmother, Carol, became a Franciscan Nun (a nun under St. Francis). She passed away on July 1, 2021, from pancreatic cancer. She would have loved my sweet boy (I say with tears in my eyes). When he came to me with these thoughts, I read to him the prayer of St. Francis: 

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:

where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon;

where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope;

where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

to be consoled as to console,

to be understood as to understand,

to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

I underlined the importance of this prayer. The parts I emphasized speaking to him, because this is who he is. He is faith. He is hope. He is light. He is joy. I know he doesn’t feel it now, but I hope on this personal journey of his, he can look in the mirror and see what I see in him. So, I urge you to Check in on the males in your life and ask, “How are you?”

Hello everyone! I’m Kylie, a second-year here at Old Dominion. My major is Strategic Communications with a minor in English-Journalism, and I love to write about news/politics and other cultural topics!