Men often can’t talk about their mental health because of the expectation to stay strong and hold it all together – and this is something women endure too.
Something that has been talked about much more in recent years is how men are pressured into ignoring their mental health, specifically because of expectations that they should remain strong. This is entirely linked to gender expectations and it is something we have to keep talking about. It is okay for men to have mental health conditions. It is okay for men to look after their mental health. It’s okay for men not to be okay. However, gender and mental health is also a complex issue for women too.
Traditionally, women have been forced to stay at home and take care of the family. Until recent decades, they’ve had to do this without complaint. It’s what they were simply expected to do. In more recent times, this has changed. There are still huge issues with sexism in the workplace stopping career advancement or even entry into certain industries (which can have a huge impact on mental health). There’s also sexual harassment which all genders can face, which again can impact mental health. Women may have swapped the kitchen for the office but the expectation of just getting on remains the same.
Women may have swapped the kitchen for the office but the expectation of just getting on remains the same”
Women are frequently silenced in the workplace, having to get on with all jobs out of fear of being punished if any complaints are raised. High-functioning anxiety is exploding among millennials as workers’ rights collapse, and we’re expected to work non-stop, always be on our emails for low-paying insecure jobs in fields that have nothing to do with our degree. The ‘put up and shut up’ attitude is forced upon women.
Women often aren’t allowed to complain because historically, we’re pretty new to the workplace. Complaining means we’re kicking up a fuss, getting in the way of the office, are entitled and aren’t living in the real world. If everyone else is getting on then why shouldn’t we? This is how the genders are made to fight against each other. We’re all supposed to struggle in silence and when we don’t complain (as we face punishment if we do) we’re then told that if someone else is just getting on without complaint then so should we.
If women speak up at home we’re still seen as nags. Why can’t we just take the bins out? Asking for support with household chores can be seen as a joke, especially for women who stay at home. Women are expected to shoulder their burden because women’s identities are still defined by their family. They’re seen as supporting figures for everyone else. This is why we still ask if women can have it all, when what we really mean is can women go after their careers and not be thought of as selfish and as sacrificing their family for their own ambitions.
Women have got to talk about their mental health, but for once, they must also be listened to. It’s not just moaning, nagging or gossiping. It’s seeking support. Women deserve to have their stress believed and supported. Silence from all corners is harming women.
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