“We know that traditional role expectations are that men will restrict their emotions – or ‘take stress like a man,’” said study author Wizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D., assistant professor of health behavior in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. “However, the more tightly some men cling to these traditional role norms, the more likely they are to be depressed.”
The study “Taking It Like a Man: Masculine Role Norms as Moderators of the Racial Discrimination–Depressive Symptoms Association Among African-American Men,’ focused primarily on how subtle, everyday racism affects Black men. Our men face constant external struggles. We should be careful not to add to the stress by denying them a safe place to vent.
“It seems as though there may be a cumulative burden or long-term consequences of suffering such persistent discriminatory slights and hassles in silence,” Hammond said. “Our next task is to determine when embracing traditional role norms are harmful or helpful to African American men’s mental health.”
AfricanAmericanTherapists.com says depression may be easy to spot in some; often a person may display signs of hopelessness and constant sadness. But among men who are taught to keep things bottled up, depression may manifest in these ways:
- Escapist behavior: Sports, TV, video game and/or work involvement to the exclusion of social relationships
- Alcohol, drugs, gambling, shopping or food addiction
- Controlling, violent or abusive behavior
- Temper tantrums
- Risky behavior, such as reckless driving
- Infidelity and addictive sexual behavior
I’m not saying to diagnose your man as ill right now. But I am saying we can show some empathy. It must be tiring to wear the cape and be the man of steel 24/7. Let’s make sure we establish a healthy culture in our relationships and friendships where men can express themselves without fear of being labeled “cry babies.” Let’s examine our roles in enforcing patriarchal norms that are oppressive to either gender.
What do you say, ladies?