Susan was exhausted. Her ex had been texting her late into the night. He was depressed and she worried that he was suicidal. He said that Susan was the only one he could turn to. They’d been separated for two years, but he’d been struggling with mental health issues for much of his life. When they were together, Susan tried to convince him to go to counsellor or to talk to his doctor but he had avoided this. He was a loner, didn’t have many friends and none that he would open up to. This was partly why it took so long for Susan to end the relationship. She worried that he would have no one.
A recent article in Harper’s Bazaar admonished men for being “emotional gold diggers.” It spoke about the phenomena of men who rely primarily on their girlfriend, or wife for all of their emotional and mental health needs, refusing to do any form of self care, receive emotional support from other men or from professionals. It points to toxic masculinity which teaches boys from a young age that having emotions is unmanly. (See Men Have no Friends and Women Bear the Burden for the full article). It also says that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
In my last post 7 Ways to Increase Your Body Positivity, I spoke about the toxic social messaging that women receive that they exist primarily for the viewing pleasure of others. I believe that men often receive the message that they exist primarily to make money and to have a lot of sex in order to be seen as a successful man.
Men also learn that emotions, and emotional connection are, at best, distractions (unless they are a means to money or sex) and, at worse, anathema to true masculinity.
These messages affect both men and women negatively. Women take on the role of caregiving for partners who refuse to care for themselves due to the risk of feeling “less manly.” Women experience stress, burnout and health issues, as as result. Men suffer with physical health issues (heart attacks, strokes); suicide; difficulties in relationships, etc.
Fortunately there are resources for men in many stages of life and with many experiences and mental health needs. Here are some free ones.
Resources for Men
Check out Men’s Shed, a place where men meet to connect and build things. The Globe and Mail printed an article on this movement called “Men’s Sheds: Where Guys Tinker and Improve ‘Health by Stealth'” . Also check out “The Men’s Shed” website.
Creative Retirement Manitoba offers education in areas of interest for retired individuals.
And Volunteer Manitoba gives listing of volunteer positions available around the province.
For women, talking to other mom’s about parenting is a pretty natural way of finding support. Men do not seem to do this as naturally and can struggle in their role, basing their parenting ideas primarily on their own experience. When there is conflict about parenting styles, men often do not talk to others about this. Here are a couple of parenting programs in Winnipeg where dads can connect, find support and get up to date information on best practices in parenting:
“Nobody’s Perfect” parenting program for dads
For men who have experience trauma or extreme stressors in their life, the result can be difficulties with sleep, flashbacks, panic attacks, issues with addictions and emotional regulation. Fortunately there is help. Check out “The Men’s Resource Centre” in Winnipeg.
Also check out Men & Trauma- Anger, Anxiety, Addiction & Depression for more on this.
For substance abuse or gambling addiction Addictions Foundation of Manitoba provides connection to a wide variety of resources. You can talk to a counsellor there about your situation and they will recommend programs and resources to suite your situation. Check out the AFM website.
Also check out Addiction, Your Best Frenemy?
Concerned about sex addiction? Check out Do You Have A Sex Addiction?
There is free crisis counselling available 24/7 by phone through Manitoba. Check out the numbers here.
Klinic has free walk in counselling. Check out their times/location here.
Also the Crisis Response Centre provides free crisis services for mental health crisis’ at 817 Bannatyne Avenue, Winnipeg. They are open 24/7.
While not free, a counsellor can help with many things and might be worth the investment. Check out 16+ Things Counselling Can Help You With for more on that and also, On Finding the Right Therapist for You.
If you are a woman who finds herself as the primary emotional caregiver for a man who is struggling and refuses to seek outside help, check out:
9 Ways to Support a Loved One with Mental Illness.
Everyone benefits when men take responsibility for their own emotional and mental well being. For more on this, check out:
Friendship in Adulthood- Couples, Singles, School aged Families & Seniors and Friendship in Adulthood- Early Adulthood & Young Families