Trigger warning: this article contains details discussing suicide. If you or someone you know needs support, the 24/7 Talk Suicide Canada hotline is 1-833-456-4566, or the BC Crisis Centre hotline is 1-800-784-2433 (1-800-SUICIDE). Help is available, please reach out.
It’s November, which is the month to raise awareness of men’s mental health.
There is a dominant toxic masculinity culture in society, where men are raised with the idea that a “real man” doesn’t show “weakness” through their emotions. However, this mindset dehumanizes men and discourages them from connecting with their emotions and themselves. Men often then turn to unhealthy coping practices, like substance abuse such as alcohol. Freeing ourselves from this way of thinking will improve our overall wellbeing and help us better connect with the people around us.
Of the approximate 4,000 suicide deaths in Canada each year, about 75 per cent of them are men. Suicide is Canada’s second leading cause of death for men between the ages of 15 and 39. According to findings by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, men’s rates of suicide were consistently higher than women at all ages between 1981 and 2017.
A report by HeadsUpGuys, an online survey-turned-resource for men through the University of British Columbia, in partnership with Community Savings Credit Union, surveyed 1,450 men 18-years-old or older in Canada and found that 55 per cent of respondents felt lonely, 50 per cent reported they hid how they feel and never asked for help, and 35 per cent reported experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-injury multiple times a week.
Unfortunately, there is a stigma around suicide, which prevents men from seeking help. Now more than ever, we need to focus on our mental health, as Canadian youth between the ages of 15 and 24 had the highest decline in feeling good about their mental health after the pandemic.
Rethink Manhood is a project with a trauma-informed lens tackling the toxic male culture around the world. It works with men and boys to “deconstruct and counter messages from the dominant culture regarding what it means to be a ‘real’ man.” By humanizing masculinity, they are countering a culture founded in male supremacy, patriarchy, and misogyny. They also have an incredible podcast to create a space for men to heal, learn, and grow in a community.
At Kwantlen Polytechnic University there are several resources students can access, including their counselling services and the Keepme.SAFE support program, which is available 24/7 for both domestic and international students.
Through the Kwantlen Student Association students can access support through the Peer Support Resource Centre, which is a student-led program where volunteers receive training in areas like empathy, basic active listening, and helping skills to offer support for the KPU community.
The extended health plan, Gallivan, has the free mywellness platform, which offers a free health assessment, access to counselling, and can direct students to additional resources at KPU or within British Columbia. KPU students who are opted-in to the extended health plan also have access to limited coverage for a mental health practitioner, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Talking about mental health does not make you weak, it’s an act of courage. Speaking up when suicidal is not attention seeking, it’s seeking support. Men deserve to be able to express their emotions, experience sadness, cry, and be honest about it all. This doesn’t make them less of a man, it means they’re human.
Let’s change the narrative so that everyone of all backgrounds can reach out for the help that is available to them.