Did you know suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45?
A huge number of men experience extreme pressure to conform to a set of unhealthy qualities deemed to be associated with ‘masculinity’, a large contributing factor to the fact that suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK. So, what can we do to help abolish unhealthy gender stereotypes?
- Highlight good male role models to the class. Discuss why these men are good male role models.
- Model and encourage open expression of feelings. Remind boys that it is ok to feel and express emotions.
- ‘Talk up’ the boys in your care who challenge stereotypes.
- Encourage discussion around gender stereotypes.
- Forgive. Please forgive boys and young men who conform to unhealthy stereotypes. They need to be shown, taught and supported to make changes to a lifetime of subtle expectations for how to behave, act and feel.
- Teach boys how to ask for help. It sounds simple but giving boys steps for when, how and who to reach out to might make all the difference.
- Have a designated space for young men to talk comfortably and confidentially if they need to.
- Watch out for increasing signs of distress, low mood or frustration. These can be indicators that boys are suffering and could be at risk of developing issues with mental or emotional health.
Why is it an important strategy?
Read the opening question of this blog post once more. On the 19th November 2018, it is International Men’s Day. What are you doing to raise awareness?
Be mindful of the vocabulary and language you use around boys. Ban ‘man up’, ‘I need some strong boys to move the benches’, ‘Be brave’ etc.