Help is not a "Shady" word!
Written by: Tigist Ashaka
As we enter the next half of the year, we want to take the time to celebrate multiple holidays in the month of June. We all know of Father's Day, where we take the day to celebrate the memories, strength and prosperity of the men who raised us. But, what most people don't know is that June is also Men's Mental Health Awareness Month. It is no secret that there is a stigma surrounding a man's mental health. Whether it's societal expectations or traditional gender roles of being a "strong man", men are statistically proven to be less likely to talk about their problems or seek outside help such as therapy or counseling. As easy as it is for us to say that men should take better care of their mental health, we have to understand that in order to receive help, you have to realize you need help. If you have grown up in an environment where you did not see men who expressed their feelings and talked about mental health, how would you know that it's normal to do those things? The first step to ending this stigma is to educate! INCLUSIVITY Inc. is planning on educating men by having open and honest conversations such as "Men Talk", and plenty of educational posts on understanding what the signs and symptoms may look like for men.
Along with Men's Mental Health Awareness, we celebrate Juneteenth, a day of freedom for African Americans. On June 19, 1865, the troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce to the state that enslaved people are free. However, we still are not free to this day because people of color are still dealing with the same circumstances such as poverty, oppression, violence and more. This ties in directly with men of color. We can't even begin to tell our African American men to express themselves until we take away the structural, institutional and individual racism factors that have caused and is continuing to cause their trauma. As our men are fighting to provide for their household and keeping their families safe while our younger men are navigating life while dealing with the world and its issues, I can understand how personal issues can be swept under the rug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are five-times more likely to die younger than women in America. As we are ignoring the stigma surrounding mental health that stops men from getting treatment when they need it most, it is literally killing them.
We must do better. Although we can not directly support our communities financially to get them the help they need, we can begin to normalize talking about how you feel and educate ourselves, especially men, on the signs and symptoms of mental illness as well as healthy coping mechanisms. This is how we can begin to break the ice piece by piece. As men neglect their mental, physical, and emotional health, having a month that will highlight the importance of taking care of themselves can only benefit everyone. As we close this submission, we want men to understand that it is okay to NOT be okay and it is okay to ask for help. Showing feelings does not mean you are less of a man or something is wrong with you. It just means that "I am not myself today, but I am figuring out how to better myself for tomorrow."