Men should be allowed to cry when emotional — Expert

A psychiatrist, Dr Jolomi Ikomi says men should be allowed to cry when passing through a bad phase to prevent the build-up of negative emotions that can predispose to many mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicide.

Dr Ikomi, who spoke at the virtual November edition of the Interactive Monthly Community Engagement (IMCE) series of the Asido Foundation with the theme “Men’s emotional Wellness” to mark International Men’s day, said crying in men and boys in African culture is seen as a sign of weakness or being not manly enough and the stereotype makes men overlook their emotional health.

Ikomi, the Medical Director of Outpatient Addiction Medicine, at Christiana Care Hospital in Delaware, USA, said since the time of the COVID -19 pandemic due to social isolation and economic crisis, there has been an increase in the number of men with mental health problems like depression and suicide.

According to him, despite the availability of effective treatment for mental health conditions, many men resort to drug and alcohol use; social isolation and engage in high-risk behaviour to cope with internal emotional conflicts, further predisposing them to severe outcomes of mental health problems like suicide and homicide.

He added, “such men are 3 times more likely to become addicted to these substances and 7 times more likely to die as a result of substance abuse. Suicide among men is increasing for different reasons across all age groups; completed suicide has been shown to be 3 to 7 times more in men than in the general population.

“A lot of men who commit suicide never reach out for help or never seek any form of mental health treatment usually from feeling inadequate, feeling judged or things going wrong in their lives that they cannot fix. “

Dr Ikomi said consequences of mental health stigma and rigid masculine norms like “men don’t cry”, don’t be a wimp” and “be a man” had contributed to discouragement in seeking help, issues with interpersonal violence, increase in overall psychological distress, worsening of depression and anxiety and abuse of substances.

The mental health expert said to ensure the emotional wellness of men, there is a need for society to redefine masculine norms that advertise toxic masculinity, and increase awareness of male suicide, in families masculinity does not have to show that fathers as not have negative emotions and screening for mental health.

According to him, men should stop ignoring their emotions, speak up and reach out for help to get through it.

He added that a good way to care for their emotional well-being is physical activity, including playing soccer and they could also seek help through telemedicine.’

Earlier, Mr Oluwatosin Olu-Jacobs said Asido Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation through its programmes seek to counter the ocean of ignorance, shame and stigma around mental health while providing evidence-based interventions to improve engagement and advocacy for mental health.

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