Society has begun to shift where opening up and talking about mental health has become more accepted and encouraged. However, there remains a noticeable gender gap. Men, in particular, often find it challenging to open up and talk about their feelings and mental health struggles. Understanding the reasons behind this can help you navigate your own emotions and actions, and create a supportive environment to continue to encourage open dialogue.

mens mental health men don't tend to talk about their feelings

Some Reasons Men Struggle to Talk About Their Feelings:

  1. Cultural and Social Norms: From a young age, in some families, boys may be taught to be strong and stoic. Phrases like “boys don’t cry” instill the notion that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. This cultural conditioning can make it difficult for men to express vulnerability.
  2. Fear of Judgement: Many men worry about being judged or misunderstood if they share their feelings. The fear of appearing weak or being perceived as less competent can be a significant barrier to opening up.
  3. Lack of Emotional Vocabulary: Men might not have the same emotional vocabulary as women due to different socialisation patterns. Without the language to express their feelings, it becomes harder to articulate what they are experiencing.
  4. Lingering Stigma Around Men’s Mental Health: There may still be a lingering stigma associated with mental health issues, although I feel this is shifting, however it can deter men from seeking help. Concerns about being labelled or facing discrimination can prevent men from discussing their struggles.
  5. Belief in Self-Reliance: Many men believe they should be able to handle their problems on their own. This belief in self-reliance can make it difficult to seek help, as it feels like admitting defeat or failure.

Do any of these reasons resonate with you? It’s time to shift the way you think about your daily challenges, hurdles in life and any problems that affect you emotionally or physically.

Try These Changes at Home:

  1. Challenge the Myths: Recognise that expressing emotions is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Sharing feelings can lead to better mental health and stronger relationships with friends, colleagues or a partner. By challenging outdated myths, you will begin to see the value in opening up.
  2. Work on Your Emotional Literacy: Learning to identify and label emotions can be incredibly empowering. You can start by expanding your emotional vocabulary and practicing expressing your feelings in small, safe environments. This could be through writing things down in a journal or notebook, or talking with a trusted friend.
  3. Surround Yourself with Support: Building a network of supportive friends and family who encourage open communication is crucial. You can then seek out spaces where vulnerability is welcomed and modelled. This will help you feel more comfortable, and you can share experiences with other men. You never know, they may feel the need to open up and talk to someone too, but have been hesitating for similar reasons to you.

My Top 3 Ways to Overcoming Your Mental Hurdles:

  1. Let’s Start Small: Begin by sharing small, less intense emotions or experiences. This gradual approach can help build confidence in expressing more profound feelings over time.
  2. Set Aside Time for Conversations: Dedicate specific times for meaningful conversations. Creating regular opportunities for dialogue can make it easier to discuss emotions naturally and comfortably.
  3. Use Non-Verbal Expressions: Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. Engaging in activities that foster connection, like cooking together or going for a walk, can create opportunities for emotional expression without the pressure of a formal conversation. This can often feel ‘easier’ for many men, so if you’re not an overly verbal expression person, try some actions or activities that still encourage expression.

Still Struggling? The Next Step…

If you find that your moods, feelings, or symptoms are overwhelming and affecting your daily functioning, it’s important to reach out for support. Our team of psychologists at Creating Change Psychology are here to help, and are experienced in working together with you through your own personal hurdles.

How does speaking to a psychologist help? It can provide the guidance and tools you need to navigate these challenges – doing it on your own or trying to figure it out yourself can sometimes either not work, or take years. We understand how the brain works and know the exact tools and methods to get you feeling calmer, content and in control.

Remember, seeking additional support is a courageous step towards better mental health and well-being – just think how you want to feel in the future? Help yourself and other men talk about their feelings and mental health more – let’s change the narrative.

Written by Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist