‘Men don’t cry’ but they hurt all the same, and toughing it out is no solution for stress
A recent study by the University of Hong Kong revealed that women in the city are more prone to stress than men (“Hong Kong women more susceptible to stress than men, HKU mental health study finds”, March 6). However, the finding does not mean that men’s mental health issues should be taken lightly.
In fact, two male athletes from the American NBA (National Basketball Association), DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, have opened up about their mental health problems, with one of them battling depression and the other suffering panic attacks. They hope that by sharing their own experience, they are encouraging men to share their feelings, talk about their vulnerabilities and seek help from professionals.
People may wonder why wealthy players like them, living a luxurious life that is the envy of many, would fall victim to mental health issues.
But in fact, mental health problems could hit anyone, regardless of socio-economic status, age, gender and circumstances.
Locally, owing to traditional Chinese values and gender stereotyping, men have been taught since childhood not to talk about their emotional problems, as doing so would be seen as a sign of weakness, since “men don’t cry”.
Even during difficult times, they are expected to tough it out. But such a mentality is not healthy, since some men risk pushing themselves to the brink of mental collapse without realising it. Delaying treatment from psychiatrists not only exacerbates the mental problems one is facing, but may even lead to suicidal thoughts or acts.
It may sound clichéd, but joint efforts are needed to help men cope with mental health issues. The family should adopt a caring attitude towards the men in the household. It’s essential to bear in mind that men are not necessarily mentally stronger than their female counterparts. Colleagues in the workplace should notice if anyone displays behaviour that might be signs of mental health problems. Early detection is the key to early intervention by professionals.
Society should not see mental health as a taboo subject, and realise that mental health is everyone’s business. Wealth, fame and social status do not render us invulnerable and cannot shield us from mental health issues.
Jason Tang, Tin Shui Wai