Men and mental health: why we don’t engage much?

Here you can read Steve’s first #MadCovidDiaries Blog on the topic of men and mental health! You can see Steve’s amazing photography here.

14.4.2020: Men and mental health: why we don’t engage much?

No doubt there are many reasons why this is: fear, isolation, embarrassment, awkwardness, uncertainty, lack of awareness. Without putting myself out there and trying, I can live in the ‘ignorance is bliss’ mindset by never testing myself, never pushing beyond, never failing, never being embarrassed, never being vulnerable, never allowing myself the opportunity to grow.

The Japanese have a craft known as Kintsukuroi. They embellish the damage of cracks in pottery by filling them with gold. There is a belief that when something has suffered damage and has history it becomes more beautiful. They add something precious to help reform the object and by its very nature, adding value to the original. Why do I mention this? I’ve been thinking about mental health and more specifically men and mental health and a lack of engagement, especially at a time like this.

I think men often often have a habit of wanting to fix things, myself included. If we’re unable to fix things then we don’t feel as if we can contribute much. Kintsukuroi offers something different. Instead of attempting to return to what was, it provides an opportunity for improvement.

Maybe there’s a fear of engagement with mental health: others would ‘break’ our game faces that we use everyday and perhaps we can’t ‘fix’ it afterwards. Kintsukuroi shows maybe that’s not such a bad thing

Rather than perceiving situations as broken or fixed, there are other ways to contribute and to appreciate that flaws can bring out a unique beauty. What if not being able to fix something was actually not being able to feel validated? What if the ‘fix’ was spending time with others and simply listening to ourselves?

That means taking steps, making mistakes and failing. It means getting up again and moving forward again with a bit more knowledge and experience than last time. More than that though, it helps me to see where I can become more than I am currently. It serves to remind me that change is possible, it allows me to forgive myself sometimes when I make a mistake. I’m not a ‘final finished product’

It allows others to teach me, for me to learn, and perhaps others to be inspired and follow in my learnings themselves and in doing so opens up a world of possibility not just for me, but for others too.

Why did I decide to write this, am I trying to fix the engagement of men with mental health?

No, perhaps I’m just pointing out a few cracks I saw to give others the opportunity to add their own gold and enhance something.

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