Men’s Health Week
On 14th June during a lockdown Sunday, we heard the story of a young man who lost his life to depression, Shushant Singh Rajput. Shushant had a mechanical engineering degree and won an Olympiad in physics. He was racing towards the peak of his career in the Indian film industry. His interest with theoretical physics can be seen in his social media posts which shows that we lost a bright mind, and most importantly, a human who could have been saved.
We see this tragedy just a day before we observe Men’s Health Week. When we talk about the health of an individual, we aren’t just talking about the absence of illness, but a state of mental, physical, and social well-being.
We see many people posting on social media about mental health and how we should be there for people who are suffering from depression. However, even then, talking about men’s mental health is a greater taboo in the society because mental health issues are wrongly associated with weakness. This toxic culture, especially in the sub-continent where the man is viewed as the support of the family, the unshakeable pillar. While these statements might be empowering, in a different light, they reflect that a man cannot express their vulnerability.
According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women; men experience a higher rate suicide than women. Depression, when left untreated, can in some cases result in suicide. With so few men reaching out for help or support, and instead suffering in silence, this may be one reason why men face a higher suicide rate.
Furthermore, another reason for this may be that men don’t always show the signs we often associate with depression, like sadness and hopelessness. Instead, they might appear angry or aggressive, making it easier for those near them to miss the signs that something is wrong.
However, it is high time that we talk about mental health issues and shatter the concept of toxic masculinity that prevents many men from speaking up about their issues with their friends and family. This toxic masculinity should not be imposed on the current generation where we have gained an understanding of mental health and recognize that mental health is a topic that needs to be discussed openly.
ReliveNow’s message this Men’s Health Week is simple: We need to talk openly about mental health. Especially during these times when many people have lost their jobs or have had pay-cuts. Physical isolation, uncertainty of the situation, and now many families losing their loved ones, has resulted in mental health issues spreading as rapidly as the virus itself.
Suffering in silence isn’t a safe or healthy option for the men in our lives. Check in with them. Ask them how they’re feeling, especially if one of them has experienced a recent event that could trigger depression. Look for changes in his behavior and watch out for depression symptoms. If you think someone you love has depression, offer your support, listen, and be patient. Encourage him to talk to his doctor or a mental health professional, or you can help him find treatment services online. Living with depression can feel overwhelming and isolating, so let him know he’s not alone. Help is available, and he can feel better.