WRITTEN BY BEN STEWART
For generations boys have been influenced from a young age to believe that they must act tough and not show weakness, that they must not cry and to “suck it up” amongst other things. This way of thinking may have worked in a time when survival depended on this kind of nomadic strength, but in today’s modern world men no longer need to fight for survival or stay tough in order to stay alive. Nowadays our state of mind is based around high demands, overwhelming work pressures and heavy influence from the media.
We still try to be the alpha male in today’s world whenever possible but it’s rarely needed anymore.
In order to survive our modern world we must try less to be the stereotype alpha and instead redefine what it means to be a man. The modern man must be strong, but strength today is less physical strength and more mental strength to cope with today’s demands on us. And this strength comes from caring for ourselves and being open and honest with how we’re feeling, rather than burying it and being ‘strong’. The true alpha male knows how to adapt and survive in any environment, whatever it takes.
Now not a lot of men are willing to openly talk about how they’re feeling to anyone, but if you’re struggling with things mentally and need an outlet, one of my most effective methods is keeping a journal.
If you want to keep it private download an app and password protect it so no-one can read what you’ve written. This in itself is a great way to clear your mind and help understand how you’re feeling when things get too much.
Life will always have its challenges no matter what path you follow, but the key thing is to learn to understand yourself and how your mind works, and above all else, no matter what you’re going through you need to understand that you are never the only one and that even if people don’t like to talk about it, they know and understand what you’re feeling and that it’s OK to feel negative things sometimes.
WRITTEN BY JOSHUA HODKIN
Mental health is a key concern for men and women alike, but it’s particularly troublesome for men. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for the last three years, and the stigma surrounding men speaking out about these issues has made it especially difficult to deal with.
One of the main problems here is that men feel as though any sign of weakness or vulnerability is ‘unmanly’. Whilst I am fully aware I am not the most masculine of men, I still felt this idea of needing to live up to the norms of masculinity dominating my experience. It’s really hard to discuss your mental health when you’re scared of being shot down for not coming across as the archetypal image of a man.
Thankfully, this simply wasn’t the case. Yes, I was worried it would be, but upon telling my parents, my doctor and my friends that I was struggling, it turns out that I got nothing but support and kindness from all of them. Talking about my health has enabled me to meet people who are suffering in similar ways, to share experiences, and to find light in the dark as a collective.
It was very reassuring to find that my feelings didn’t make me an outcast.
The knowledge that so many others suffer in the same way that I do means we as a community can support one another, and helps me feel much more content in my feelings.
My mental health caused my grades to suffer in sixth form, made it difficult for me to do my work in my job, and also made the start of university super daunting. However, the fact I was able to start my journey to recovery after starting university by taking part in their counselling course, which really helped me to find my feet and understand how to deal with my emotions. I’m definitely still healing, but I’m a good part of the journey there.
I think the community of young people is very supportive and progressive, and teaching people how to understand and assist with mental health issues is key to breaking the stigma!