Toxic Masculinity – What is it and how does it affect mental health?
The term “toxic masculinity” is something that is heard quite frequently through the various channels of the media, but what does this term mean and what impact does it have?
This term refers to toxic practices of masculinity, that ultimately result in the oppressions of men, women, transgender, and gender diverse individuals’ experiences. In addition, toxic masculinity can also be characterized as the enforcement of restrictions of behaviours based on gender roles. These restrictions can present extremely harmful pressures on males that may make them feel as though they must behave in a certain way in order to be perceived as masculine. Furthermore, there is great emphasis placed upon asserting or displaying dominance over others within the traditional expectations and gender “norms” of men.
These pressures in turn can lead to a variety of physical health and mental health issues. Toxic masculinity reiterates the expectation that men are deemed as “weak” for tending to their personal needs or expressing their emotions. This in turn, can be reflected in a perceived mental health stigma that results in discouraging men to seek mental health treatment. Toxic masculinity can also result in the development of various mental health disorders such as depression and/or anxiety, an increase in stress levels, and potential substance abuse behaviours. Men affected by toxic masculinity behavioural expectations may lead to the participation in risky behaviours, suicide, lack of genuine connection, as well as potential psychological trauma exposure.
Here are various ways in which you can help combat the harmful effects of toxic masculinity:
Define your own version of masculinity while including other human experiences within said definition
Take time to reflect upon your personal views and attitudes about masculinity
Hold space for others to change and explore their own individual definition of masculinity
Extend an invitation to share thoughts and feelings to a friend in general and surrounding the topic of masculinity
Seek the guidance of a trained mental health professional to explore your personal beliefs and values
Toxic masculinity extends much further than solely affecting male behaviour and mental health. If you or someone you know feels that you have been directly or indirectly impacted by toxic masculinity, please feel free to contact our agency to book a session with a licensed mental health professional. Book a session here