Beyond “Men's Mental Health”
May is Mental Health Month. We have to work harder than usual this month, especially because Blossom the Media is involved in mental health awareness activities on a daily basis.
I am one of the several writers who represent this magazine and have published a few articles. I often imagine your figure on the other side of the screen as I continue to write. Does the article I write satisfy your desire to know? Or am I the only one enjoying the progress? Now that you have read my article, I hope it will have a positive impact on your day. I write with the thought that choosing words for the audience comes with responsibility.
However, this article may not meet your expectations. Nearly 90% of our readers are women. I try not to put too much emphasis on gender, but after seeing this data, I can't help but choose words that are geared toward women. It might be easier for me to write that way too.
However, because May is Mental Health Month, I would like to think about "Men's Mental Health" with everyone because men's mental health is about everyone, including us women.
Why should men's mental health be in the spotlight in the first place?
This is because they are forced to isolate themselves from mental health in order to maintain their masculinity. There are still many men who feel the pressure to become the "ideal man" without talking about their worries and to be the unsung hero. Some people may think that such machoism would not make sense in 2023, or that many people will not care about such gender roles now.
But is that so? I have a younger brother who recently entered middle school. The anime characters that he and his friends are obsessed with are always male characters of the "lone wolf" type. They do not rely on anyone and support the team behind the scenes. I think such a male image is still considered cool. TikTok, actively used by young people, especially middle and high school students, frequently features “alpha males” (“man among men” in Japan) and “sigma males” (a man who is a lone wolf).
And even now, I sometimes hear voices saying, "If you're going to get married, you'll have to make an annual income of XX or above." Just as a woman's worth is measured by her appearance, I think a man's worth is determined by his work performance and how much he can financially support someone else. Of course, not all people are like that; I think that the number of people who have no expectations about gender and are flexible in their thinking is gradually increasing. However, this is my personal impression: I can't help but feel that the old gender roles still dominate society.
The suicide rate for men in Japan is twice as high as for women. And we see the same trend around the world. Nearly 80% of the so-called Hikikomori who feel the reluctance to go out into society are men. In Japan, the term Soushokukei danshi became popular about 10 years ago and because men who passively engage in social activities, including romantic relationships, are given a cold shoulder, I feel that men's mental health is being neglected.
On the other hand, there are also concerns that women's mental health may become secondary when the public focus is on men's mental health. When I decided to write this article and consulted with a female friend of mine, she said, "I feel perplexed because the society created by men is tormenting them." Indeed, gender roles, including machoism, are made in male-dominated societies. Some scholars say that the psychology behind the recent popularity of “strong women” is that women can finally gain recognition in a male-dominated society through their careers.
I decided to write about men's mental health this time because I wanted to hear everyone's opinions and create a place for conversation. I would like to hear the actual experiences and impressions of men's mental health, not only from men but also from women, and from those who do not identify into either of these categories. I hope that this article will serve as an opportunity to have a lively conversation with you about the reality of men's mental health. And please help us at Blossom the Media to be more inclusive and all-around in conducting mental health awareness activities.
Written by Karin Shimoo
Translated by Rio Ishida
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Maya Kubota