Or as Johnny Depp put it: “people cry, not because they’re weak. It’s because they’ve been strong for too long.”
We have a funny relationship with emotion as a society. On the one hand we let it all hang out. We share thoughts, feelings and political opinions with what seems like unguarded abandon on social media. But then for every emotion shared, another has been curated, guarded or moderated, particularly when it comes to men. That can be extremely detrimental to our individual and collective mental health.
This is not news in itself. According to MIND, one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, such as depression. The messages about the importance of mental health are growing, and in particular a focus on men’s mental health is being brought to the fore thanks to organisations such as CALM and MIND. Big boys DO cry, emotion isn’t weakness, and talking about anxiety saves lives – these are all messages that we are becoming accustomed to.
Jane Powell, CEO of CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) who aim to support young men and address male suicide rates says that simple things in our every day vernacular impact the way men feel about their own emotions. “While of course it isn’t acceptable to tell a woman to ‘get back in the kitchen’ for example, it is acceptable to tell a guy to ‘man up,’ she says.” All terms which she believes are indicative of a very damaging attitude, implying that to be a ‘real man’ you need to be strong, be capable and be a shoulder for everyone to cry on.
Jane continues, saying: “what we hear from guys is that it is really hard to talk [about emotions] because the expectations and status around them is so tight; they worry that it makes them seem ‘a bit weak’ or ‘a bit of a pussy’.”
In addition to all of that, we know that it’s a very healthy thing to cry on occasion, talk about feelings, express feelings (positive and negative) and within that, hopefully go some way to preventing them from becoming overwhelming.
Agingcare.com writes that 85% of women and 73% of men felt less sad and angry after crying but on average women cry 47 times a year, men cry seven times a year. It also cites research that shows crying helps to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, and is actually a positive recognition of emotion that inspires empathy in those around us.
Keeping that in mind, issues-driven media company ATTN: released this video this month featuring aforementioned Nev Schulman, encouraging men to express emotions. Re-branding tears as a healthy sign of strength rather than weakness. After all, sometimes we all need a good cry. #bekindtoyou
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