. PSHEeducation | Unhappy Men

It has been a long while since I have written a blog but I have been inspired to do so this week following some research and an interesting BBC documentary: Reggie Yates' Extreme UK (which apparently ‘exploded Twitter in opposition to the sexist opinions held within the 'manosphere' [BT.Com]). My interest is on the issues of equality and the sense that men feel they are suffering but that they are not listened to as other groups are.
I do not endorse nor understand how people can become so distorted or callous when they have strong moral principles and was appalled at some of the things these men were saying on this documentary but I feel it is important to remember these are indeed extreme views – as Reggie Yates in fact calls this documentary series. It is important to remember this. The UK seem to love to hate and love to label. It is always my job to look beyond the hype and the trends to the roots of how people really feel hence the research I have been doing.
In February 2014 a report was published by the Office for National Statistics showing that between the years of 2001 – 2013 male suicide had reached its highest levels since the early 1980’s, rising in 2007 and hitting a high in 2013.
Now you might think each man who makes up these statistics was suffering mentally in one way or another but it is important to note that in fact 75% of people who commit suicide have in fact never been diagnosed with a mental health problem and only 5% of people with depression actually go on to commit suicide. We see the complexities further when we consider famous men, often who appear to have it all, who take their lives. So the issue here appears to be what’s going on inside.
As a parent of a teenage boy and having taught PSHE to many boys of all ages I see their concerns. They have the same emotions, fears and pressures as girls. But young men today have a tough, new dichotomy - the pressure to be ‘manly’ but also ‘sensitive’ too. Too much one way or the other can make them unattractive as friends or boyfriends – they don’t know who or what to focus on.
Men are told from an early age to ‘man up’ that they shouldn’t cry, need to ‘be strong’. UK Parents rarely talk to sons about how they feel about their lives, their worries and their inner selves because it is not something we, as a society, have been bought up to consider as important. In schools, boys rarely meet friends who they can express these deeper aspects of themselves to without being laughed at. I often talk to young men about this issue in my sessions and encourage them to begin a ‘revolution’ in their schools to start to really talk (and really listen) to each other but it is uncomfortable territory for many of them.
It seems society does not like to address this, but address it we must as more men between the ages of 20 and 49 die from suicide than from heart disease, driving accidents or cancer.
The solution for me always comes back to communicating, opening up and realising none of us are alone regardless of how we may feel. In my opinion the answer lies in focussing on our similarities, rather than our differences.

© Kate Daniels. PSHEeducation