MENtal Health and 2020
We’ve all experienced one strain or the other on our mental health in this year 2020 but we want to talk about this from the men’s perspective today.
Lately, I had a conversation with a friend, we were talking about a poem he wrote that was very emotional. He confided in me about his dysfunctional relationship with his parents especially his dad and in his words, he said, “most people I meet including the ladies I date come with expectations from me, but if they don’t ask, I wouldn’t know when I should give because I wasn’t used to receiving myself…” now in that simple sentence are layers of bad experiences built up over the years till they became quite normal to him. It wasn’t until recently he was able to connect the dots. And the stories abound.
The truth is that if society is configured to expect so much from men, it’s only ideal for them to show some empathy as to where some of these men are coming from. Men too are tender even though they have become skilled at shielding their vulnerabilities. The year 2020 hasn’t been the easiest of years and it all came mostly as a shock to all; Men inclusive.
Men are humans like everyone and yes we may have thought our dads had superpowers growing up but the truth is they are but boys in bigger bodies. Except they are psychics or prophets, they really can’t predict the future, just like everyone else. So they most likely weren’t ready for the surprises the year 2020 came with.
Rising unemployment compounded the difficulties that already plagued the year 2020. Men being the major breadwinners of their families were dealt the most blows. We heard stories of domestic squabbles and violence that resulted as a reaction to the strain caused (indirectly or directly) by the pandemic. According to some newspaper and government reports, the ongoing pandemic has led to increased levels of family violence worldwide. And as you would have guessed, men felt the brunt more.
In addition to that, coping mechanisms (e.g. boys hangout, sports, etc), which was supposed to serve as a means to dealing with the trauma (unemployment, restrictions on personal freedom, economic depression, financial distress, etc.) the pandemic brought, were nonexistent at some point and this further compounded the mental stress of the victims. “Men often seek an escape activity to get relief from stress, to create a relaxing diversion, to get away,” says Pickhardt. Unfortunately, 2020 was the year where extracurricular activities were a luxury at least for the most part.
The lockdown also became the catalyst for idleness and we all know that where idleness breeds, there’s bound to be problems. Men have been left with not much choice than to brainstorm creative ways to provide food for their families amidst the hardships, and the lockdown was no consolation.
Managing mental health may not be as easy as it sounds but the onus is not just on the men themselves, but on all of us, the society. We could all use some more tenderness and love and support to buffer some of the gaps that repleted the year 2020.