Men with mental health problems are more likely to suffer from toxic masculinity

Sexism is harmful to women and society as a whole. The perpetrators themselves can be affected by sexism. In the last two decades, psychologists have discovered a link between traditional masculinity and poor mental wellbeing. A new meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, confirms this link. It also adds more details on which aspects of “toxic masculinity”, as it is called, are most harmful to mental health.

Researchers from Indiana University and Nanyang Technological University of Singapore combined data from 74 different studies involving nearly 20,000 participants. The study concluded that men who adhered to traditional masculinity ideals were more likely than others to suffer from poor mental health. These people were also less likely than others to seek assistance.

Harmful traits

Researchers were able to analyze the large dataset and determine which 11 masculine stereotypes are most harmful. Psychologists refer to “playboys” and “power of women” as the two most closely associated aspects of sexism. These are also closely linked to poor outcomes in mental health. Women are viewed as sexual objects by those who adhere to the “playboy” masculinity norm. They often say that they would prefer many partners.

Those who adhere to the “power-over-women” norm view women as inferior to men and in need of a masculine controlling influence. Self-reliance is a third masculine standard that’s closely related to mental illness. Men who adhere to it prefer to solve their problems on their own and don’t ask for others to help.

The study does not establish the relationship between these factors and poor mental health outcomes. Y. Joel Wong is an associate professor at Indiana University and the lead author of this study. He argues that these masculine standards limit the social potential of those who conform to them.

He told Healthline that these attitudes towards women could leave men out of touch, not only with their girlfriends and wives but also with their coworkers. Wong said that 40 years ago, people were less likely to speak against you if you behaved in a sexist manner. He noted that today, people around you might speak up and you would receive pushback.

You may be avoided by others. “Either there are negative interpersonal effects.” “I think that these consequences ultimately backfire on the sexist perpetrator, making things even more stressful for him or her,” Wong said. Men who are self-reliant can be socially isolated. Wong stated that “in today’s interdependent society, self-reliance has become increasingly problematic. Trying to do things alone and having difficulty asking for assistance makes it difficult to accomplish tasks.”

Negative feelings

The male norms were associated with mental health issues like depression and stress. But the biggest negative impact was on social function. Men who are lonely and hostile tend to be less socially connected. Wong believes that the relationship between these men and the women in their lives may be the main factor behind these negative effects.

He cites another study where he and his co-workers examined what he refers to as the “zero-sum gender” beliefs held by men, such as the belief that men will lose their rights if women get more rights. Wong’s study concluded that men with these beliefs who have poorer mental health have poorer relationships with their wives or girlfriends.

Ronald F. Levant is a professor of psychology at the University of Akron and a leader in this field. He said that Wong’s study confirms this phenomenon. He also believes that masculinity standards are changing. Levant, a spokesperson for Healthline, said that “younger men choose which masculine standards they will adhere to.” “A growing percentage of men are rejecting masculine norms.”

Levant, on the other hand, cites the increasing influence of the Alt Right movement, a white nationalism that embraces traditional masculinity, for pushing out the expression of explicit prejudices. He noted that the presidential election this year “unleashed and energized various groups of prejudiced individuals”. Levant stated that it would be hard to get the genie to return to the bottle.

Help Wanted

Men who suffer from mental health issues related to masculinity can get help. Counseling can be used to help develop social skills as well as deal with mental problems such as stress, depression, and anxiety. Wong and colleagues found that these men were less likely to seek out help. This presents a challenge to mental health professionals as well as loved ones who wish to assist.

Wong said, “This is a double-whammy.” “These are people who desperately need mental health care but aren’t getting it.” Wong suggests some strategies that can help them seek out assistance. The first is to provide a male model who has sought out counseling. Find a man that this person respects. An uncle or friend who can share their experience

Wong also suggests that men should try a less stigmatizing method of counseling or therapy, such as coaching or mentoring. A life coach who is also a counselor could help men become more successful or effective while also addressing the mental health issues at their core. Online counseling is another option. It is more private, and it may be an excellent first step.

Wong suggests as an alternative, giving them a self-help Christmas book as the last resort.David D. Burns M.D. recommends his book titled, ‘Feeling Good.’  Burns. It deals with issues such as depression using structured strategies, which may appeal to men rather than introspection. These strategies may even change men’s attitudes towards women and stop the cycle of violence. This may also benefit the women in their lives. &

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