In a recent BBC film, Roman Kemp explored how mental health problems can be related to ideas about masculinity. He understands that the causes of suicide are always complex and never related to one single issue.
However, he states, “No matter what, there is still an idea that the man is the breadwinner of the family. 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.”
Add to that, the pandemic – and the financial toll that comes with it. Roman states that Covid has an impact as well.
“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.”
Roman stated that guys suffer hugely with thinking they’re not where they should be in their life. They feel they can’t take a pause for themselves.
Roman visited organizations across the UK that are trying to help young men struggling with mental illnesses, like an emergency street triage team in Nottingham who dispatch mental health workers to people in crisis and a charity called Lighthouse, in Belfast, that helps boys and young men who’ve been affected by suicide.
“You’ve got light at the end of the tunnel in terms of groups and charities starting to make this movement happen,” he says.
But Roman also believes the government needs to take mental health issues more seriously.
“Not enough is being done,” he says. “To not have the support in place for kids, in my opinion, is disgraceful. There’s not enough budget there. There’s not enough onus put on it.”
It is often very challenging for men to talk about their experiences and seek support. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Governments everywhere, need to pause, listen, and put our hard-earned money toward helping those who suffer from mental illnesses.
In 2019, men died by suicide 3.63x more often than women – https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/
White males accounted for 69.38% of suicide deaths in 2019. https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/