In collaboration with Men’s Health Week 2019 and of course, I’ll be talking about men’s mental health.
How many of us are guilty of telling someone to ‘MAN UP’? I am. Since researching stigma of mental health, particularly male mental health, I make a conscious effort not to use such phrases. Let’s have a look. Maybe after reading this, you will too. So, what does ‘MAN UP’ mean?
“to build up enough courage (usually for men) to face adversity and responsibility”
“to fulfil your responsibilities as a man, despite your insecurities and constant ability to place yourself in embarrassing and un-manly situations”urbandictionary.com
(OK, so the Urban Dictionary had a few other definitions too but they aren’t very family friendly). Of course, we often don’t think about the subliminal messages behind colloquialisms & slang phrases people use in every day language. The phrase ‘MAN UP’ is used so often, yet very few of us think of the definition & how this may impact someone. The definitions above suggest men have more of a responsibility to appear ‘strong’ & that men shouldn’t get insecure- yet this is a completely normal feeling, proven by research from health correspondent Denis Campbell which shows that 80.7% of men talk in a way that promotes anxiety about their body image. It baffles me that we talk so much of female empowerment & battling unrealistic media aspirations of body image, yet the male population are expected to get on with it &, despite having the same brain that has similar anxious & insecure thoughts as women, they should just “MAN UP”. In fact, a group of men & women were asked during a research study if they’d trade a year of their life for the perfect body. 38% of men said “Yes” to this question, which was a greater proportion of men to women.
What’s the difference between women feeling insecure that they don’t have the ‘Love Island’ body than when a man feels a bit crap after comparing himself to Tommy Fury? What’s the difference between Mother’s comparing themselves to one & other, yet a Father can’t do the same? It’s 2019 & unfortunately gender stereotypes still exist- then we make men feel even worse by telling them to “MAN UP” because men shouldn’t have emotions (apparently). Not only this, it using the term “MAN UP” to promote courage & strength devalues women. I could stop this blog post here & I hope you’d still cast your vote to ban the phrase from our vocabulary.
An urban dictionary contributor must feel the same. They described the term “MAN UP” as,
“Forget about your problems because you were born with a penis, therefore it is not important to anyone that you have a problem.”
“Be silent and forget your suffering because you have testicles.”urbandictionary.com
These witty translations show how absurd this term actually is. What happened to equality? Mental health doesn’t discriminate- man, woman, adult, child, nationality, religion- whether we “MAN UP” or not.
With men trying to live up to the unrealistic & outdated traditional “ideals” of what it means to be a man, this may lead to men being less likely to seek support for any mental health problem they are experiencing. We have learned that 1 in 8 men have a mental health problem. That could be your Dad, your Brother, your Grandparents, a friend you have known since school, a colleague, a neighbour. Let’s encourage our men to speak up, not “MAN UP”.
Click HERE to read some personal stories of men speaking up about their mental health.
If you need support with your mental health or know someone who does, click HERE to find someone who can help.
Until next time,
Love, Kayleigh Rose x