With celebrities like Prince Harry and Lewis Hamilton admitting they have struggled with mental health, therefore emboldening others to seek help. Media portrayals of mental health in films like The Joker also offer a very raw portrayal of mental health in men. This changing media attitude represents a much-needed change in the way men feel about seeking help in their mental health. But has it gone far enough?
When influential figures like Piers Morgan use the term 'Man up' and the idea of a 'stiff upper lip' is still prevalent then it is clear that dangerous ideas about male mental health are deeply ingrained. Even if unintentional or light-hearted, the idea that men must be stoic is detrimental and contributes to a culture of toxic masculinity in which men cannot express themselves fully and don’t ask for help when they need it.
It is blatantly obvious that the culture around male mental health needs to change
This leads to real and devastating consequences as the biggest cause of death for men under 40 is suicide. It is blatantly obvious that the culture around male mental health needs to change. However, whilst there are promising signs in the media, the portrayal of mental health can be problematic, even in well-intentioned films. The Joker has been criticised as depicting mental health sufferers to be violent whereas, in reality, mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence suggesting the problem has not been resolved.
So what can be done to help? A damaging culture persists on this issue so to combat it men should be encouraged to talk about their mental health openly and informed of where they can seek help, if in need, either from the NHS services or places like the Samaritans, this is helped by celebrities speaking out.
A more accurate portrayal of mental health in the media is also key to dealing with this issue, with influence from people who have experienced mental health
A more accurate portrayal of mental health in the media is also key to dealing with this issue, with influence from people who have experienced mental health, instead of directors simply guessing what mental health struggles look like. Male mental health is a crucial issue which has been ignored with devastating consequences, a culture change is long overdue.
Attitudes towards mental health in men are centuries old and resistant to change. However, the release of films that discuss mental health and the increasing amount of celebrities speaking up on the issue is a sign that things are improving even if there is still work to be done.