Janelle De Souza
Counseling psychologist Sule Joseph says that some people do not believe that men need recognition, believing that we live in a patriarchal society and men have already been the leaders and prominent figures of the world.
However, he said recognizing days that celebrate men, such as International Men’s Day on November 19 each year, speaks to the emotional self, especially at a time when people expect men to be more in touch with their feelings.
International Men’s Day, inaugurated in 1999 by TT Dr. Jerome Tilluksingh, is a more recent addition to the list of international days of recognition.
According to the Awareness Days website, the day celebrates the positive contributions and achievements of men while addressing important issues affecting men’s health, well-being and gender equality.
Joseph stressed that international days are important because they are days of recognition, and recognition is about emotions. So when people didn’t take the day seriously, they said men didn’t need that emotional support, perpetuating the misconception that men are divorced from their emotional side.
We recognized that there are other groups that need support and recognition, we supported them and they continue to grow. But I think it’s become a situation where, unintentionally, by trying to support other groups, we’ve indirectly moved away from supporting men and masculinity.
The population psychology is that men are big and strong, and they don’t need that, which indirectly feeds into the same concept of toxic masculinity, which I disagree with, about what a man needs to be someone who is strong, who doesn’t have feelings or need emotional support or recognition from others.
He said that if society is trying to get men to accept and care for their emotional side, society should acknowledge and recognize the contribution that men have made to it.
He cited the example of Mother’s Day versus Father’s Day and the effort people put into the celebration. That effort, or the lack of it, suggests that men will do what they were supposed to do without recognition, because that’s what men were supposed to do.
He said no one asked if the men were afraid of rats or cockroaches, but they were expected to be the ones to kill the creatures if they entered the house.
He believed that it was necessary to remove gender associations with emotions. He said that emotions do not belong only to women and that everyone feels good to be recognized. He added that some men are too emotional and, because they have never been taught to deal with their emotions, they mask it with anger.
I think not acknowledging the emotional side of men is doing a huge disservice to the sexes and setting us back a few years.
Joseph noted that internationally, men are twice as likely to simply respond to suicidal thoughts and less likely than women to seek help. As a result, he personally did not see many men in his practice. However, over the years he has seen several boys who have contemplated suicide and their motivation was the feeling that they could not live up to society’s expectations.
He said that men are generally expected to be successful and provide for their families. They felt pressured to look, dress and behave in certain ways. And with the concept of masculinity becoming more fluid, some young men find it difficult to navigate.
For boys now, even more than in the past, when you have a natural drive or desire to be competitive, or to be alpha and to function, and people tell you that level of functioning is toxic, then you might find who you are to be problematic.
I could see where that kind of conflict could cause depressive issues, especially when you have men who are now wondering if functioning in a way they thought was masculine is now unhealthy.
He said that society demands much more from men with less recognition of their efforts and that this is stressful both emotionally and cognitively.
Counseling psychologist Nicolas Voisin agreed that modern expectations of masculinity can be confusing.
He said the boys were not encouraged to talk about their feelings. What they needed was the support of boys their age as well as emotionally mature men.
He said, as is normal between women and girls, boys need to describe their feelings to grown men who would listen and give advice. They had to learn more words to express what they were feeling so they could identify the emotion and figure out what to do with it.
He added that boys need mature, healthy men to look up to, even if that man is not always in their lives. It can be a teacher, coach, priest or any other emotionally healthy person.
He said the idea of a toxic personality or attributes can be applied to anything, even behaviors that might be considered innately positive.
It’s the concept of taking a trait to an extreme where it’s not healthy for those using it and those around you. So, toxic masculinity is a version of masculinity that does not support or promote the well-being or good mental health of the men who use it.
It’s a hard and fast thing with very rigid rules about what men can and can’t do, and those rules are at odds with what men actually need. And it becomes quite unhealthy and destructive, not only for the person, but also for the people with whom the person interacts.
Although there were exceptions to every rule, Voisen generally provided some characteristics of healthy manhood.
As the head of the family, he said that men should not be dictatorial, but should listen and consider the feelings and ideas of others. He said they should witness without judgment and encourage, not demoralize or reject; create a safe space for your partner and children to be themselves; guide, support and encourage people; and be comfortable being vulnerable with your partner and children so they can see that they have feelings beyond anger.
He said that those kinds of traits are learned. Man could not just see what he did not want to be and not be. They still needed an example of what to do, which is why boys, and men too, need a mature, emotionally healthy male as a role model.
He said women today say they wish men would be more in touch with their emotions, but when a man expressed those emotions, often the women’s response was to either insult him or tell him how he felt by talking about her, and he had to deal with her feelings then. And that had to stop.
Voisin said depression is the most common factor in suicidal ideation in men, caused by feelings of helplessness, fatigue or futility due to a breakup, financial problems, the death of a loved one and other emotional problems.
Then there is the ubiquitous depression without any specific contribution because men generally do not take care of their mental health. Even within social structures, men do not have the same kind of opportunities to commit resources to their mental health as women.
Internationally, men were twice as likely to die by suicide, 12.6 per 100,000 men compared to 5.4 per 100,000 women, according to the 2021 WHO report.
In TT, 561 suicide deaths were recorded for the period January 2018-March 2023.
#Counseling #psychologist #Men #explore #emotional #side #Trinidad #Tobago #Newsday
Image Source : newsday.co.tt