The emotional and psychological health of men has long been a taboo subject. Because men are constantly encouraged to act on the world before the world gets to them, any man who feels overwhelmed by the pressures of life can feel like a voiceless failure. As Christians, we have a responsibility to help and minister to men to help them get through life. Here are just a few reasons why:
Men Are Struggling Right Now
Changing roles in today’s society have left men and boys feeling adrift. While girls and young women are encouraged and cheered if they take on traditional male roles, such as becoming a breadwinner, earning an advanced degree or striving for athletic success, many young men feel they have nowhere to go.
Boys and young men are socialized and encouraged to seize the day and act on the world around them to get what they want, but if they do so too aggressively, they are penalized for being overly masculine. This can lead to isolation and a sense of failure. Young men who retreat from the world can fall into obsessive fantasy behavior or simple escapism. An increasing number of men are falling under the sway of addictions such as alcohol, drugs, pornography, and video games. Addiction inevitably increases the strain on their marriages and relationships.
They’re Struggling to Be Parents
Parenthood is one of the hardest jobs a person can take on. It takes tenderness, patience, and a great deal of flexibility. As our culture has moved away from long-term relationships such as those developed by the leadership of church families, we have sadly adopted a “selfie mindset.” This can consist of perfect photos, perfect families, and perfect moments preserved forever that can make many men who are parents feel as though they are failing if their lives aren’t selfie worthy.
In addition, financial stress can leave many young families on the ragged edge of destitution. In many households, the structure is a three-legged stool: his job, her job and their relationship. Remove one leg and the whole thing collapses. Add the church as the fourth leg, and many young couples may just make it.
A Safe Space to Speak Up and Ask for Help
Young women are encouraged to gather, share stories, support one another and complain a bit when they need to. Young men are taught that competition is key, which can leave them isolated from peers when they really need someone to talk to. Male depression is often hidden, even from loved ones. Churches, particularly older lay ministers within the congregation, can be there to listen when life gets to be too much.
Mental health is a many-layered onion. Oftentimes, men need to peel away several layers of negative emotions such as indifference, anger or frustration, to get to a place where they can look at and talk about their pain. If there is a man in your life struggling, follow Christ’s example and minister to him like a true friend.