Our thanks to Nigel for this. He writes:
In the article Roman points out the reality, that males are still seen as where the responsibility lies. One of the common daytime adverts, amongst all those about funerals, incontinence pants and household products, is the one for life assurance. A 30ish young man, with wife and children in the background, is persuaded he should “protect” his family with life insurance in case he’s “not around”. Now in the many years I’ve observed this sort of advert the format is the same, and only once a few years ago did one version have a woman (it soon came and went). Of course it’s just an advert but encapsulates the truth as it was when a similar ad persuaded me 35 years ago to take out life assurance for my family. At least then it wasn’t toxic patriarchy. Both as individuals, and as a collective in the form of taxation, the buck stops with men. All too often men take their lives convinced they are of no use or have failed. Unlike women, men are tragically “successful” in their suicide attempts, no botched attempts as a “cry for help”. If women were as successful in their attempts there would be no “gender gap” in suicides.
Because of course if you feel responsible and are convinced everyone is better off without you, who will help you? Put simply women have “better help seeking behaviour” because they expect there is help to be sought, and someone to be responsible for their problems or at least to share responsibility.
And of course that’s the real problem with “mental health” that often there is a reality of pressure not amenable to just sharing. Perhaps what Ronan has picked up on is that nothing much has changed for young men now, all the same demands and assumption of responsibility (recent events illustrate once again that while women cannot be advised on personal safety nor take responsibility to be careful, men are on their own and have to look to themselves for safety) with nothing but literal and cultural barriers to fulfilling them. One need only consider the huge barriers to being a responsible father following divorce to see why divorce is literally deadly for so many men. Roman again:
“No matter what, there is still an idea that the man is the breadwinner of the family,” he says. “The man is the person that has to have a family, has to find the perfect person and be happy with them, have kids and help them financially.
“And sometimes that pressure for guys is too much.”
And the pandemic – and the financial toll that’s come with it – has an impact too, according to Roman.
“The pandemic has just accelerated everything,” he says. “It’s accelerated people’s depression, anxiety, fears. We’re living in a world now where it’s literally like ‘fear porn’ – how can the world be scared next?
“And for someone who is already going through something mentally, when you start hearing about job losses, people not even being able to put food on the plate for their family, that’s a serious thing that – especially [for] guys – is a tough, tough thing to take.”
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