The overwhelming expectation of resiliency in Singapore men is preventing them from seeking help for their mental health when they need it the most, a recent survey by Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) Singapore has found.
Commissioned in commemoration of International Men’s Day on Friday (19 November), the survey found that seven out of 10 of the 1,000 respondents aged 16 to 54 and above said they expect men to be more emotionally resilient than women.
According to the research, aimed at understanding the issues surrounding Singapore men’s inability to seek help for their mental wellbeing, 53.2 per cent of the respondents said that they did not ask for help because they’ve "learnt to deal with it".
This attitude most visible amongst those in the 16 to 24 age group, who overwhelmingly cited that as the reason for their not seeking help, at 73.3 per cent.
Meanwhile, women cited the expensive cost of getting help as the primary reason for their not seeking help, at 59.5 per cent.
It also found that men are more likely to think that admitting they need help will make their peers lose respect for them, with 27 per cent of men thinking like so, compared to 19.9 per cent of women who have the same mindset.
"The findings suggest that gender plays a role in influencing mental illness stigma in Singapore. It also suggests to a certain extent lowered mental health literacy which could contribute to holding negative views towards those with mental illness," Parandaman Thechanamurthi, a principal paediatric forensic psychologist, said.
"Traditionally masculinity evokes certain expressions and demonstrations of behaviours such as crying. This may lead to difficulty in expressing challenging emotions as it assigns weakness and disempowerment," he added.
Additional overall findings in Singapore
55.5% have a good/excellent understanding of mental health conditions (eg. anxiety, depression, OCD etc)
57.3% have a good/excellent understanding of how to seek help for their mental health in Singapore
How people learn about mental health
61.4% read about it online
46.3% watched videos about it
40.4% talked to friends about it
9.7% currently suffer from mental health condition
Of those who currently have a mental health condition
78.1% are sole income earners in their family/household
73.1% have a kid 6 years or younger
20.1% think they might have a mental health condition but have not been professionally diagnosed
In light of this, BBH, in partnership with Calm Collective Asia and Freeflow Productions, launched a film production campaign that seeks to dismantle the traditional negative thinking around mental health concerns, and aims to normalise seeking help for everyone.
"There’s a lot of stigma around acknowledging mental health issues… This thought-provoking film aims to shed light on this issue, suggesting that the best way to 'deal with it' is by asking for help," said BBH Singapore Creative Director Gaston Soto.
The campaign film, Deal With It, is a 95-second-long film that questions the effectiveness of "self talk" or "self therapy".
"We are culturally and socially conditioned to place unrealistic expectations on men … They’re expected to appear strong, stoic and 'emotionally resilient'. But emotional resilience is not about repressing one’s emotions, but embracing them fully and turning to support systems for help," Sabrina Ooi, Calm Collective Asia’s co-founder and CEO, said.
The bottling up of emotions of men who are mentally struggling must stop, Ooi added, before it was too late.
Marvin Joseph Ang is a news writer who focuses on politics, the economy, and democracy. Follow him on Twitter at @marvs30ang for latest news and updates.
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