May is national Mental Health Month, and Denver7 is partnering with the Let’s Talk Colorado campaign to highlight the unique challenges men face to enjoying good mental health. This article has been furnished by Tom Skelley.
Every man knows the expectations our culture places on us. We’re told to be fearless, tough, strong— and those expectations limit how we understand our emotions, often preventing us from asking for help when we’re struggling with stress, grief, depression or other issues.
Now imagine the added pressure of having your entire career depend on the public’s perception of your masculinity.
Imagine the reaction if John Wayne had come forward in the 1960s and admitted he struggled with anxiety, or if Elvis Presley publicly stated he had post-traumatic stress disorder from being abused as a child. How would their fans have reacted? Or the general public? The men and boys who looked up to them as examples of a “man’s man,” or the women who viewed them as sex symbols?
Fortunately, our ideas of masculinity are evolving, thanks in large part to a number of actors, athletes and musicians who’ve come forward. Their stories are helping to change expectations of bravery and strength, and create a more welcoming environment for other men to talk about their mental health:
- Musician and rock n’ roll legend Bruce Springsteen has talked openly about his lifelong struggle with depression and other mental health challenges.
- Cleveland Cavaliers five-time All Star forward Kevin Love wrote a heartfelt editorial about his battle with anxiety and the importance of talking about our mental health.
- Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw has been openly discussing his clinical depression, a condition that affected him his entire life though he was diagnosed in 1999.
- Hollywood tough guy and former WWE wrestling superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson recently opened up about living with depression, a challenge to his, and his mother’s, well-being.
For everyday men and women who know a man with challenges to his mental health, or face challenges of their own, the honesty and vulnerability these men have shown is welcome. As these and other celebrity men come forward to share their own stories, mental health experts hope it will build momentum for a sea change of what it means to be strong, to be brave and to be a man.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis such as relationship problems, family emergency, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, bullying or stress, Colorado Crisis Services offers free, confidential and immediate help, with trained counselors available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.