In this age of hypermasculinity and toxic masculinity, it’s not easy to find emotionally safe spaces for

men to vent. To be emotionally vulnerable or open about their struggles. With all the expectations

placed on men, there’s little to no room to talk about emotions and how everything is affecting the man.

Everyone around him is looking up to him to live up to the standard of provision and protection.

For younger men, the pressure is on them to live up to this idea of masculinity that they’ve seen and

heard about. When every other man is seemingly putting up a front of everything being A-okay and

flaunting their successes everywhere (because that’s the only way they’ll be accepted), then what you’ll

have is a generation of sad and depressed men who feel like they aren’t doing enough.

We also have men who carry the whole weight of the world on their backs because people are

depending on them. They are leaders both at work and at home and those responsibilities take a toll on

them, in more ways than they ever want to admit to themselves. A man like this, can’t just show his

vulnerability at work, lest he loses the respect of his colleagues. Back at home, his wife and children

hang on every word he says. He probably also has black tax he’s dealing with. Black tax is the financial

support that black professionals are expected to give their extended families.

Not forgetting the long standing social and economic disparities and marginalization, that exist for men

from minority groups. All of which significantly lower the quality of life, health, and wellbeing for these

men. Their mental health is also likely to suffer the greates,t as compared to their white counterparts.

The American Psychiatric Associations reports that;

Ethnic/racial minorities often bear a disproportionately high burden of disability resulting from

mental disorders.

Depression in blacks and Hispanics is likely to be more persistent.

American Indians/Alaskan Natives report higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder and

alcohol dependence than any other ethnic/ racial group.

Mental health problems are common among people in the criminal justice system, which has a

disproportionate representation of racial/ ethnic minorities.

Attitudes towards mental health treatment and help-seeking behavior by men from minority

communities also play a huge part in their poor mental health. This stigma is rooted in deep-seated

cultural beliefs and religion. It is considered weak to admit that one is struggling or showing signs of a

mental illness lest they are labeled as “crazy”. A survey done by Priory on men’s mental health, revealed

the following attitudes towards seeking help;

‘I’ve learned to deal with it’

‘I don’t wish to be a burden to anyone’

‘I’m too embarrassed’

‘There’s negative stigma around this type of thing’

‘I don’t want to admit I need support’

‘I don’t want to appear weak’

‘I have no one to talk to’

With all these factors working against good mental health, it’s easy for the conversation about men’s

wellness to be forgotten. As big as we are on self-care, community care is also as important. Self-care

assumes, that you have the time and resources to practice it. This isn’t a reality for all men. Self-care

alone is not enough, especially when the societal systems are built to work against you. All you know is

systemic and institutional inequalities because of things you have no control over…like your race.

Community care involves interpersonal acts of kindness and compassion. One of our basic human needs

is love and belonging. That innate desire to be a part of something. Community care is something we

can all practice because it requires us to show up for one another, especially when the individuals

involved, don’t have the capacity to practice self-care. It’s saying to other people, “I see and hear you

and I’m here for you.” “You can use my wings when yours are broken.” “We will get through this

together.” “You are welcome to be yourself with me.” It’s about creating safe spaces for each other to be

vulnerable without shame, blame, or embarrassment.

Here are ways you can practice community care;

1. Check-in regularly with your loved ones. If someone crosses your mind, pick up the phone and

call them. Ask them how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do to ease their burden.

2. Empathize with people’s pain. Put yourself in their shoes. “I get what you’re going through.”

“I’m here for you.” “I’ve been there before.” “You’re not alone.”

3. Don’t minimize what someone has gone through or refuse to acknowledge and validate their

experiences simply because you don’t agree or understand them.

4. Relieve people who are burdened and can use the help like offering to run errands, babysit,

cooking…. anything that’s shared responsibility.

5. Participate in social events in your community like family get-togethers, weddings, funerals,

baptisms, festivals, church activities, etc.

6. Perform random acts of kindness for people like covering someone’s grocery bill, connecting

them to something they need, offering your services pro-bono, and even being nice to them.

7. Volunteer to serve in the community like at church, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, old

people’s homes, etc.

8. Fellowship with the community by joining support groups or start them if there are none. All

that is needed is common ground. Love and support are enough reasons to start a group.

9. Participate in community-building activities like voting and development. Whatever happens in

that community affects you as well. Be actively involved in it.

10. Stand up for what’s right and intervene when injustices occur in your community. If you have

privilege, use it for good. Stand up against any forms of hate and unethical practices when you

see them. Be your brother’s keeper.

Community care reminds us that we aren’t alone in this journey, which is comforting and good for our

mental health. It starts with your willingness to shift attention, care to others and to be mindful of them.

Community care is what saves us when self-care isn’t enough. It’s those around us, that come through

for us when we are at our worst and can’t pull ourselves together. That’s what mental health needs.

Seeking therapy is also a part of community care. You can reach out to us for mental health

consultations.