Starting research into the broader subject matter of mental health in males feels a bit like trying to jump into a sea of information and knowing where to start is quite difficult although it isn’t hard to find statistics which make rather grim reading.
Within this article published by mentalhealth.org I found some interesting info regarding the possible reasons of male mental illness. And in consuming this info I will hope to offer some personal insight from my own experience and of those I have interviewed as part of my project.
Societal expectations and traditional gender roles
Whilst progressing my work I have certainly noticed that maintaining gender roles has been an important factor and although participants have in the main been very frank and honest in sharing their experiences, I feel that a male discourse is present in both photographic work and in the audio recordings. When collaborating with participants I feel that I have been able to access some emotion, however at the few points a metaphorical mask has been removed I feel the mask is quickly replaced with another mask. Almost a tick box approach as if to say ‘I’ve done the honest bit now’. By no means do I intend to demean this level of honesty, rather an acceptance of the patriarchal view of looking at the world.
Men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems
Although probably true, I have spoken to a number of participants who have sought help for their mental health. And from personal experience, one of the main reasons I am probably still here is due to the intervention of a female GP. At my most vulnerable I had a weekly appointment where my GP, although not a specialist was able to provide emotional support on a human level. In maintaining this relationship I felt a she eventually was able to understand my issues and offer critical insight.
Socioeconomic hardship, unemployment
In pursuing this theme I certainly identify with this. Working as a media teacher in the FE sector I have been employed at the same institution for nearly nine years. Around five years ago I experienced a new management structure being implemented and saw many colleagues leave their posts. I’m still not sure why many employees left the college but more importantly in a personal sense. I’m not sure why I haven’t been asked to leave. I understand this may represent a lack of confidence in my own personality and it is possible that I am good at my job. However the feeling of insecurity is something that I have lived with for a long period of time. Sometimes stressful and a source of anxiety which can have a huge impact on myself and my family. At the same time, I feel scared to leave and seek employment elsewhere as I’ve been employed in the same place for so long. A strange conundrum that I haven’t yet solved.
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/m/men-and-mental-health [Accessed 8th April 2021]