” What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation”.
— Glenn Close
It’s 2020 and mental health is still stigmatized all over the world. Most people don’t really wish to talk about it. If at all they do, they are mostly women. When it comes to men, barely anyone talks about their struggles. Let’s take a look at why there are significantly fewer male mental health bloggers than female mental health bloggers.
Upholding so-called masculinity
Who doesn’t know about the ‘Bois Locker Room’ scandal that shook India recently? It clearly reveals the prevalence of toxic masculinity. One of the rules of toxic masculinity is that feelings are for women and sissies. Manly men are strong because they don’t talk about their pain, they overcome it in silence. So when it comes to a topic like mental health, men are discouraged to speak up. Due to this mentality and to avoid alienating their audience, most male bloggers don’t talk about it either.
Therefore, there are significantly more female mental health bloggers than male mental health bloggers. Patriarchy is the most common reason behind this disparity. From Therese Borchard to Mahevash herself, most bloggers who write about mental health are people who are women.
According to a study conducted by Priory Group among 1000 men, 40% of them will never talk about mental sickness. So if men are not talking about it, how do you expect them to blog about it? It will be a blot on their masculinity.
Social stigma attached to male mental health
Severe social stigma is attached to mental health, more so when it comes to men. From time immemorial, women have been allowed to express their feelings. In fact, women are pretty much expected to cry, feel pain, and emote. But men are discouraged from doing so. From a young age, boys are fed toxic beliefs like ‘real men don’t cry’. This is the very reason that even if they want to, they don’t speak up about their emotional and mental status.
Take the case of your parents. How many times does your mom cry? And how many times does your dad? Exceptions aside, men seldom reveal their state of mind. As a reflection of society, most male bloggers avoid the topic of mental health. Even if they start talking about it, their male audience won’t ‘like’ such content online to avoid being seen as weak or unmasculine in their circles.
Thankfully, there are a few male mental health bloggers like Andrew Solomon and Jonny Benjamin. Hopefully, this is a positive sign that in the future, things will change for men in the health and wellness space.
Gender roles at play
Males are all about avoiding responsibility and having fun while women are mature and sensitive to a fault. At least those are the gender roles assigned by society. Obviously, there are exceptions but the majority shuts up and follows this senseless social norm.
So most male bloggers focus on creating light and entertaining content. And what about serious issues like mental health? They are ignored. While female bloggers talk about sensitive real-life experiences, male bloggers will stick to simpler lifestyle topics like relationships and gaming.
We have clearly laid down a dichotomy between men and women’s roles. We have designated that men do laborious work and women focus on girly stuff like emotions. This translates into men making content that focuses on violent, entertaining, superficial issues. The emotional department is left to be taken care of by women.
All these factors combined together give us very few male mental health bloggers.
How we can fix this
There are multiple men who blog who deal with mental health issues. They are human, after all, and mental health sees no gender. Due to a cruel society that has put them in a box, they are unable to blog about it. Even if they do, they are typically marginalized and judged into silence. Let’s all pledge to stop this discrimination on the basis of sex today.
Remember, blogging is an inclusive activity. It’s a creative art and no one should be deterred from posting something that’s helpful and productive. To all the males out there: don’t be afraid. There are times when bloggers lose hope due to trolls and negative feedback. But if they ignore the haters and truly post with zeal and heart, they will succeed eventually.
Kriti Agarwal is a lady with a penchant for words. You can check out her blog at https://wrytin.com/kritia2.