Wed | Sep 19, 2018

The Superman Complex, Creating Mental Illness

Published:Monday | April 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Scattered across Jamaican are billboards with the term "Man" in bold with a one-sentence definition of what a man should be. If you have seen the signage along your journey,, you will notice the sentence indicates that man is a person who takes care of his responsibilities. This advertisement can be seen as another social interjection of what it means to be a man.

In some instances, it is a not-so-gentle reminder to the men slacking off in the respective areas of their personal life, while to others, it is added pressure to uphold the "Superman" persona.

According to research, it has been proven that most men who are portraying this persona are suffering from a silent crisis. This is based on evidence that there is an increase in the rate of mental-health issues among men.

 

Sign of weakness

 

Our young men were taught to never express true emotions as it is a sign of weakness. Society has dictated that they are not supposed to complain, they should always have it together, even when their world is falling apart. They should be independent and not seek help from others and they should possess the motivation to succeed against all odds, even when they feel they are at the end of their rope, they should tie another and keep going. As the persons at the helm of building our societies, they should make a way out of no way. This is the "Superman complex" which is the burden that most of our men are under.

Many mental illnesses affect both men and women, however, men may be less likely to talk about their feelings and seek help, and are more prone to succumbing to the disease. This is one of the reasons that their symptoms may be very different as well.

For example, some men with depression or an anxiety disorder hide their emotions and may appear to be angry or aggressive while many women will express sadness. Some men may turn to drugs or alcohol or even bury themselves in work to try to cope with their emotional issues.

Sometimes mental-health symptoms appear to be physical issues. For example, a racing heart, tightening chest, ongoing headaches, and digestive issues can be a sign of an emotional problem. Remember, everything in the body is linked to the brain.

World Health Organization statistics have indicated that Jamaican boys are more likely to externalise (fight) than internalising (depression) while experiencing high levels of emotions.

Given that fighting is not acceptable, internalisation of problems is the alternative. Due to the standards placed on men, most end up being depressed because they cannot show any signs of weakness.

 

WARNING SIGNS

 

The warning signs of mental illness in men include:

- Anger, irritability or aggressiveness

- Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite

- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

- Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

- Increased worry or feeling stressed

- A need for alcohol or drugs

- Sadness or hopelessness

- Suicidal thoughts

- Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

- Engaging in high-risk activities

- Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain

- Obsessive thinking or compulsive behaviour

- Thoughts or behaviours that interfere with work, family, or social life

If your husband, boyfriend, family member or friend is showing any of the above warning signs try these 5 tips to help them cope, before it develops into a serious mental illness.

Communication is key. Be sure to always be available to talk and create a no judgement zone.

Don't push him. Allow him to speak openly and frankly in his own time.

Respect his privacy. If he confides in you, do not pass on this information to other people.

Remind him of his value.

Sources:

WHO Mental health Atlas: http://www.who.int/mental_health/evidence/atlas/profiles_countries_j_m.pdf

National Institute of Mental Health:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/men-and-mental-health/index.shtml

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com