Analysis: The silent battle for male mental health

Mental health is a daily struggle for male-identifying people

No Health without Mental Health: Jason Bauche, SAIT counsellor, poses in his office at the Student Development and Counselling department in Heritage Hall on Jan 30, 2024, in Calgary, Alberta. He is also a registered psychologist.(Photo by Kenneth Cheung/The Press)

As tough as some men appear to be, one never knows what is going through behind those iron gate eyes, especially when society can label men who speak about their feelings as “soft.”

Men often mask themselves with the traditional idea of manliness, thinking, ‘they got this’, while turning a blind eye to their mental state. As emotions accumulate within, the unspoken struggle of loneliness can quickly become a bigger problem.

“We as men don’t like to ask for directions when driving, right?” said Jason Bauche, a registered psychologist and educational counsellor at SAIT. “We don’t even want to ask for directions from anyone about anything. We need to realize there is a bigger problem within ourselves.

“Men tend to do things to get their minds off as time gets tough. Activities like going to the gym or just working on the deck could give them a sense of accomplishment that they could hold on to; however, if the time gets tougher, alcohol and other substances could easily become a quick escape to temporary `happiness’.”

Some might say being lonely is a choice, but it can feel like a sugar-coated lie people tell themselves so they can find some peace in their hearts.

“It’s easy to isolate yourself and to think no one could understand what you are going through,” said Mackenzie Kayser, a civil engineering student at SAIT.

A lot of men will overlook their feelings and think that it’s just a phase, but in fact, it is more significant than that.

If men don’t address their issues —  and instead attempt to drink or smoke their emotions away,— it can have a bigger impact on their minds then just their liver or lungs.

“Mental health is just like having body pain,” Bauche said. “You won’t think it’s a big deal until your back starts to get hurt, and then your hips and your knees, and when you wait to that point to go to the doctor, maybe it’s not too late, but your health is already in a bad place.”

Men don’t always have the healthiest coping strategies, Bauche said. And they can try to distract themselves from their feelings.

To fight this silent struggle, small steps can help instead of trying to change everything all at once. A starting point is for men to ask themselves what they want to do.

“Sometimes we are too afraid to be lonely, but I don’t think that loneliness is necessarily a bad thing,” said Kayser.

By focusing on things they enjoy, men can connect with like-minded people throughout the process.

“I met my spouse and basically all my close friends from doing what I already love to do, but I never went there expecting I would make friends,” Bauche said. “Just enjoy the activity, and other things will just simply come along,”

It can be helpful for men to not compare themselves to their perceptions of others. Some people might seem to have it all and live like there are no worries in the world, but there’s no way to know what people are going through behind those laughs and sparkles.

“There is no health without good mental health,” Bauche said. “Mental health is part of you, and you can’t be healthy if you are mentally struggling.”

Remember, you are not alone. Call 403-284-7023 to talk to SAIT Development and Counselling for more support.

Keeping the light on: Alistair Wallace, a film and video production student, poses in front of SAIT’s Senator Burns Building on February, 1,2024, in Calgary, Alberta. He said he likes skiing when his mind is not in a good place. (Photo by Kenneth Cheung/SAIT)
About Ngo Yen Kenneth Cheung 6 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Ngo Yen Kenneth Cheung is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.