This month we will shift our focus to men’s health – a topic in need of much attention. Whether male or female, this one’s worth your time.
Author and mental health professional, Charlie Hoehn, recently published an article regarding men’s mental and emotional health. His article was inspired by the Vegas shooting as he attempted to convey the serious implications of mental and emotional health. The phrase, ’emotional health’ may send you men dragging the cursor towards the trash can icon and getting on with your day. Before you do, trust us, men need to hear this.
FROM BOY TO MAN
From an early age, boys are shaped to think, feel, and act in a certain way. Hoehn states, “We (men) have an unhealthy ideal of masculinity that we try to live up to. Part of that ideal tells us that real men do everything on their own. Real men don’t cry. Real men express anger through violence.” This unhealthy and unrealistic ideal becomes a reality and Hoehn believes the by-product is isolation and loneliness.
The early years create a culture of adult men who do not have deep friendships or confidants. “New research suggests that more than two and a half million British men have no friends they would turn to for help or advice in a crisis.” Read the article here.
CRISIS OF MASCULINITY
It’s a slow and often unnoticeable process in some men; loneliness compounds, the feeling of community fades, the sense of support subsides, perception of rejection rises, and the end result is a belief that all people are cruel; people are threats.
HIT TO HEALTH
Dr. Dean Ornish, the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute shares about the effects of loneliness in his piece, American Men’s Hidden Crisis: They Need More Friends! “I am not aware of any other factor — not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery — that has a greater impact on our incidence of illness, and [chance of] premature death.”
DATA TURNS DEADLY
Simon Sinek shared these staggering statistics.
“We’re seeing a rise of loneliness and isolation. No one kills themselves when they’re hungry; we kill ourselves when we’re lonely. And we act out, as well.
In the 1960’s, there was one school shooting.
In the 1980’s, there were 27.
In the 1990’s, there were 58.
In the past decade, there have been over 120.
It has nothing to do with guns, it has to do with people feeling lonely”.
The data says it all – men need more community, true friendships, meaningful relationships, and deep human connection. Hoehn and other professionals think the answer is play – play in both boys and men. Peter Grey’s TedX Talk focuses on the decline in play and how it has contributed to the rise in the psychopathology of young people.
Loneliness and play deprivation affect everyone, men and women, kids and adults. But, “our culture continually neglects the emotional health of our boys, and our men”.
Seek out support. Find a group at work, the gym, or church and get connected. Invite a friend out for golf, cards, or meet for a drink or dinner. Engage in meaningful conversations. Ask real questions. Build trust. Commit your time and energy into people around you. Remember, this won’t just help your health, it’ll support the health and happiness of the other men around you.