Why big boys do cry – if they want to stay on top
New research suggests men still struggle to talk to their partners about stress and anxiety. So, what’s holding them back?
Mental health issues can affect anyone, irrespective of age, gender, or status. But, suicide rates for Aussie men are three times higher than they are for women. So, what is holding so many men back from seeking help?
For many, cultural stereotypes are a persistent muzzle. Even today, with a woke revolution on our hands, the character traits typically associated with being a traditional male include strength, silence and restraint.
But, we all know bottling up feelings can make things a lot worse in the long run. That’s why we’ve teamed up AFL legend Wayne Schwass and his mental health charity for men ‘PukaUp’ to explore the issue in more detail ahead of Mental Health Week on October 10th.
Our research shows that more than half (55%) of Aussie males still feel the need to hide mental health issues from their partners, which is likely to be fuelling higher depression rates. What’s more, a similar number (54%) feel under pressure to be their family’s main financial provider.
The research also finds that men often use coping strategies to deal with issues in their lives which bypass meaningful communication. When dealing with problems, Australian men prioritise taking time out on their own (56%) and taking up regular exercise (45%), above talking it through with their friends, family, or partner (37%).
But does this stem from the stigma that men shouldn’t talk about their feelings? When asked if men believe Australian society allows men to speak openly about their feelings and personal struggles, well over half (62%) believe they are encouraged to do so, but still struggle with actually doing it.
PukaUp founder and CEO Wayne Schwass has openly shared his own experiences with depression in the past which culminated in him ‘lying, hiding and pretending’ he was happy for 12 long years. Wayne, says:
“When I had despairing feelings, I certainly felt as a man I had to contain them. But the problem is if you don’t talk to people when you’re down, things build up even more creating huge emotional isolation. Over time, this sequence of events can actually be quite dangerous.
“We are keen to break down the barriers and traditional mindsets associated with masculinity, the notion that men don’t cry, men don’t talk about their feelings – it’s just not right. We are encouraging men to not only acknowledge their feelings but to share them and reach out when they need a helping hand.”
The good news is while we know that over half of men in relationships feel they need to hide depressive feelings from their partners, just under half (39%) say they feel more comfortable and confident when they’re in in a solid relationship. Couples who share high compatibility are more likely to find it easier to discuss difficult topics.
Furthermore, at eharmony we match people based on their shared core values and personality traits, meaning they are more likely to be in sync emotionally and share good communication skills. This all helps keep relationships happy and healthy.
Nevertheless, for those who might be struggling to support a partner battling mental health issues, here are three quick tips to help encourage facilitate better communication:
- Ask them how they are: sometimes we say we’re fine when we’re not. So, ask how they are feeling. It shows that you’re willing to be there and listen with open ears.
- Read between the lines: sometimes people might not come out with that they have mental health issues straight away. However, they may say they feel stressed or not feeling themselves. You may notice that something seems different.
- Be there: all your partner wants to hear is that you’re there for them, and your feelings towards them will not change. You don’t have to try and give advice, just listen and show your support.
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