An Open Letter to Men: Prioritising Your Mental Health Matters

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We need to have a heart-to-heart about something that’s often brushed under the carpet—your mental health. This is important. We live in a world that constantly tells men to be strong, to be the pillars of society, and to carry on regardless of what’s going on inside. It’s absolutely okay to prioritise your mental and emotional well-being.

It’s okay to feel emotions, really feel them, and to express them in healthy ways. You’re not less of a man for feeling sad, anxious, or overwhelmed. Bottling up emotions can lead to a mental health crisis. Share what you’re going through with trusted friends or family, or even professionals. Emotional expression isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of being human.

When it comes to health check-ups, there’s often a reluctance among men to consult medical professionals unless absolutely necessary. The problem with this approach is that by the time something becomes “absolutely necessary,” it’s often far worse than it could have been if addressed earlier. So please, if you’re not feeling well, get checked out. Prevention is often better than cure, and early detection can make a world of difference.

Burnout is another issue that men, in particular, tend to ignore or downplay. The culture of “hustle” has many men working endless hours, believing that rest is for the weak. But let me be clear: taking time to rest and recuperate isn’t laziness; it’s a form of self-care. Rest is essential for mental clarity, emotional balance, and overall well-being. If you’re constantly pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, you’re not doing anyone any favours, least of all yourself. So when you start feeling worn out, please take a break. Recharge those batteries and return to the world as a rejuvenated version of yourself.

Now, how about supporting other men? Sometimes it seems like we’re all in competition with each other, each trying to be the “alpha male,” to outdo the other in all aspects of life. But imagine a world where men uplift other men, where you could lend a helping hand or a listening ear without judgment. The strength of your character isn’t measured by how many people you can outperform, but by how many people you can positively impact. You can be that person who makes a difference in someone’s life. Share your experiences, offer advice, or just listen when someone needs to talk. Your support can help other men open up about their struggles, creating a ripple effect that could change lives.

I know this letter is asking you to go against societal norms. Many of these norms have been ingrained in us since childhood, making them incredibly difficult to break. However, it’s never too late to start making changes. The first step is acknowledging that it’s okay to take care of yourself and to encourage others to do the same. Let’s break the cycle of silence and stigma. This is a collective effort, and every individual contribution counts.

As men, we need to stick together and break down the barriers that have been constructed around our emotional and mental health. It’s a collective responsibility we all share. The way you treat yourself sets the bar for others, and it can encourage other men to take care of themselves too. So let this letter be a gentle reminder to look out for number one, and by that, I mean you.

So to you, I say this: be the change you want to see. Make mental and emotional well-being a priority. Encourage your mates to do the same. And remember, you’re not alone in this journey. There’s a community of men who are slowly but surely changing the narrative. So let’s stand together in making mental health a topic that’s openly discussed, properly addressed, and adequately cared for. Together, we can make a difference, and it starts with you.

Shaun Zietsman

Blogger and Content Creator from Johannesburg, South Africa.

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