To help break the stigma associated with mental health, all that we need to do is talk about it.
It is common for men to negate their feelings and emotions because we are never taught how to recognize what is actually going on, how to effectively, shamelessly express those feelings, nor are we taught how to manage those feelings.
Without these lessons in dealing with emotion, men with sons often recycle these patterns, and new generations are taught to suppress their emotions to live up to the facade of always being “strong” and emotionless.
My Father taught me how to rise before the sun to knock out things you have to get done in order to have time to do things you want to do later.
My Grandfather taught me that even though you may have individuals in your ear telling you everything that you are doing is wrong (normally my grandmother yelling at him LOL), consistent hard work and dedication will produce the results that YOU are looking for.
My Uncle Jeffrey taught me the value of having your own but sharing what you have to help others. A simply joy in life.
My Uncle Lamont, by far one of the greatest influences in my life, taught me how to be cool while constantly hustling and grinding.
As a child, I learned things from the men in my life. Things you should and should not do as a man. Things that you strive to be as a man. Ways a man is a man.
They were there to set examples.
BUT…there were things that I did not learn or experience.
Feelings and emotions came from the women in my family. The hugs, the nurturing, and the “I Love You’s” came from the women – my mom, grandmother and aunts.
Never from the men.
I didn’t hear “Love you” from my pops until I was in my 20s and it was awkward. Why?
It’s not like I ever doubted that he loves and cares for me, but it is not something that was verbally said or even expressed through a hug. It was limited to a dap and half hug with a pat on the back. For a growing boy internalizing every interaction with males in his life, this helps create the norm of refraining from displaying feelings and emotions.
This is not only an issue between fathers and sons but generally characterizes male interactions between uncles, nephews, and male friends.
As we continue to recreate this emotional disconnect from generation to generation we do not realize the affect it has on our mental health.
To help break stigma associated with mental health and mental illness, men must step up to the plate and talk. This is not limited to just fathers to sons, but also with friends and family. We cannot be afraid of being perceived as weak for expressing and showing emotions. WE ARE ALL HUMAN.
A man recognizing his ability to address and manage his emotions correlates with how other men will address and manage their emotions, especially for boys that will grow up to be men.
Previously published by Rwenshaun