Reprinted from "Men's" issue of Visions Journal, 2005, 2 (5), p. 3
It seemed so much easier at the brainstorming table. Men’s and boys’ mental health is something that has never had its own Visions issue before. Yes, there are arguments that all mental health services and research are implicitly based on men, but if a gender lens reveals inequities for women then it also has the ability to reveal areas of concern for men. The problem is, it seems, that men don’t think they are a gender. Luckily, there is an emerging field of scholarship looking at masculinism and how it affects men and boys. This area of research is identifying some important conflicts between health-seeking behaviour and men’s socialization.
In reality, putting this issue together was harder and more interesting than we thought. Men’s difficulties expressing themselves in a masculinist society is repeated in many of the articles in this Issue. Most of the articles have an undercurrent of the stereotyped, strong, silent male secretly dealing with his own issues. For the health of men and of boys, we must challenge this idea.
While we have captured a variety of experiences, services, research and background information, there are always things that are left out, unavailable, or simply missed. We would love to hear about those things. Noticeable by their absence are articles on men’s housing issues, men and their relationships, ADD/ ADHD in boys and men, issues of poverty, the criminalization of mental illness and substance use (or in many cases, pathologizing of criminal behaviour), and issues for men with other disabilities alongside of mental illness. I am sure that this does not exhaust the things that impact the lives of men and boys.
Listening to the voices of people living with health issues balances the dominant words of the health industry, but it is not easy. These articles challenge our personal beliefs and may even offend us. The voices of these brave authors must be heard alongside the research and the service descriptions. They are, after all, the sole reason that many of us work in this field. They are also graphic in detail, as you will see in a couple of the following articles. So take a deep breath. Dive in. Let us know if these articles challenge you, open up new ways of looking at the issues, or simple affirm for you something you have experienced.
About the Author
Christina is Executive Director of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mid-Island Branch. She has an MEd in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies and is working towards her doctorate in Policy and Practice in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria