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There is one thing men of all races in this country have in common: they think they’re tough.
Whether in the pub, on the sports field, on the road and even in the office, they don’t like to be seen with “feelings” of any kind. Cowboys,
we have been taught from an early age, don’t cry. Whatever life deals them, men must simply “suck it up” and carry on regardless. And the results of that are all too plain to see in our society. Men drink too much. Men abuse women. Men fly into rages at the smallest of things. Men hurt other people. Men kill.
Bottling up feelings and not talking about them leads to these perverse outcomes – but it also leads to an oppressive depression in many men, which can become so great that it leads to suicide.
Mental health has got worse in the pandemic, as people feel isolated and vulnerable from being confined in lockdowns. Many are angry, or feel a sense of failure, because they have lost a job or a business as a result of the Covid restrictions.
The World Health Organisation reports that men in South Africa are four times more likely to commit suicide than women.
Clinical psychologist Loyiso Maqubela says: “This should indicate far higher rates of depression amongst men in South Africa and yet we see significantly more women seeking help for depression.”
There’s that cowboys don’t cry attitude again – it is weak to seek medical help for something which is often not obvious to people around us, like depression.
Such is the scale of mental issues that there is currently a long waiting list for appointments for treatment – something which may discourage people even more.
We all need to look out for each other and for signs that something is not right … before it is too late.
People who need to reach out for help may contact the South African Depression & Anxiety Group (SADAG)’s 24-hour helpline on 0800-567-567, or Lifeline on 0861-322-322.