November 21, 2023 (IANSlife) To achieve the ambitious goal of zero male suicides, it's crucial to challenge societal norms perpetuating toxic masculinity and stifling emotional expression. Men face immense pressure to conform to traditional expectations, leaving little room for vulnerability. No Shave November encourages redefining masculinity with emotional intelligence, empathy, and the courage to seek help.
Tailored nutrition for men is essential. Education plays a pivotal role in eradicating mental health stigma, with initiatives integrated into curricula, workplaces, and communities. Community support networks, showcase positive role models, fostering resilience and inspiring hope, reassuring men that they're not alone in their struggles.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the trend of suicides among men is growing year-on-year. India recorded the highest number of suicides (51,477) in 2020 due to "Family Problems," with 35,333 being male and 16,140 female.
Mansi Poddar, India's renowned psychotherapist and founder of the Heal.Grow.Thrive Foundation, said, "The alarming reality of the doubled suicide rate among men compared to women underscores the often-overlooked toll of patriarchy, work cultures, and gender stereotypes on the male psyche. While societal discourse predominantly addresses the harm inflicted upon women, it is crucial to acknowledge the profound impact on men as well. In an Indian patriarchal setting, men bear the weight of expectations – to earn, be obedient sons, and provide old-age support for their families. Unfortunately, men are rarely afforded the space to express their emotions or have their feelings validated during childhood, a critical juncture where mental well-being begins. I advocate for attachment parenting, urging families to prioritize their sons' emotional and mental health, fostering an environment free from the constraints of gender norms and devoid of shame for expressing emotions. Contrary to stereotypes, in my practice, I encounter men who are remarkably emotional, sensitive, and capable of vulnerability when nurtured in the right conditions.”
The stigma surrounding mental health in India has deep social roots, affecting every layer of our social and cultural fabric. As we strive to promote awareness and acceptance of mental health issues, it is imperative to confront the toll imposed by patriarchal expectations and traditional gender roles on men's mental well-being. Despite being seen as the physically stronger gender, men are often denied the ability to accept their weaknesses, forcing them to silence their emotions from an early age.
The journey from 'boys to men' is burdened by societal expectations and repression of any perceived weakness. Recent examples highlight the urgent need to change social norms, emphasizing that men are also vulnerable to mental health concerns and deserve the space to acknowledge and address their psychological struggles. Breaking the silence and dispelling the myth of the masculine ideal is important to foster a society where men can openly seek help, thereby addressing the alarming rise of mental health issues due to the disproportionately high suicide rate among men in India. The prevalence can be combated.
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