The month of November commemorates and honors mental health for men. Mental health ultimately includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being; it affects how people feel about themselves, how people act, and how people think. Mental health determines how we handle stress and relate to others.
Mental health is important in every aspect of life and it is something that should not be neglected and ignored. But for many reasons men often get forgotten about when it comes to mental health.
Ziggy Reid, a junior on the Merrimack Men’s Basketball team, talked about his perspective on mental health and the journey that he has taken in regards to his growth as a young male adolescent.
“Growing up you know you’re always told to get up and keep it pushing no matter what as a boy. You almost never really have time or the opportunity to address feelings and what is going on with you. Crying and expressing your feelings was kind of like a sign of weakness, as a boy you just didn’t do that,” Reid said.
The stereotype behind men is that they aren’t supposed to show emotion at all; but if they do it isn’t nearly as much emotion as females display. There is also a conception that men simply do not address their feelings and emotions all together.
“I mean looking back on it if I didn’t have basketball I really don’t know what I would’ve done. Basketball was my outlet, it was my way to let out all of my emotions and feelings and cope with everything else going on in my life. Looking back on it, it may have not been the best thing to do because I put so much pressure on myself when it came to basketball,” said Reid.
With the topic being addressed more throughout social media, men have started to feel more comfortable with addressing the struggles that they have with mental health. With
individuals feeling more comfortable in addressing their struggles and feelings when it comes to mental health, they are able to cope more effectively and find ways that leads to healthy growth and progress.
Trumayne Guy, an offensive lineman for the Merrimack Men’s Football team, discussed how social media has helped him in his journey with mental health.
“Seeing so much acceptance and acknowledgement on social media platforms makes others like myself much more comfortable embracing your own struggles and battles with mental health. Seeing so much support really helps you accept that it is something that you need to address,” Trumayne said.
Helping bring awareness to a problem as big as mental health helps others embrace their own journey with mental health.
“It makes you realize that you’re not alone in this and a lot of other people are going through the same exact thing that you’re going through. People tend to run away from the subject because it makes it seem like you’re a problem that needs fixing,” Trumayne said. The feeling of embarrassment and looking at oneself as a problem is one of the many factors that make individuals timid to talk about mental health. “You aren’t a problem that needs to be fixed, but you want to do everything in your power to get to where you are at your healthiest mentally and physically everyday,” said Trumayne.
There is not one way to combat mental health struggles. Everyone is different and everyone’s journey is different therefore many people have different ways of coping and managing their mental health.
Ziggy talked about how he handles his struggles with mental health on a consistent basis.
“Through a lot of trial and error I found what works best for me: meditation. I first started closing my eyes and being in a quiet space for one minute and now I’ve worked myself to be able to do it for about 10 minutes,” said Reid. Meditation is a practice that everyone can incorporate in their daily routine to be mindful. “I just find myself so free and at peace after when I’m done and I feel like weight has been lifted from my shoulders. It is a time where I am able to become more mindful of my thoughts and feelings,” Reid said. Ziggy also talked about taking a minute to reflect on his day before he went to sleep to acknowledge what he is grateful for.
It is becoming more acceptable for men to openly take pride in their mental health. There is no longer a need for men to go through their battles quietly alone, acting as if they are completely fine when in reality they are struggling.
There is nothing wrong with struggling when it comes to mental health; actually the first step is sometimes acknowledging that someone is struggling. Therefore they are then able to come up with a plan that promotes their health mentally to the best of their ability.