How does culture impact men’s mental health?

As someone who comes from an Arabic background, I have witnessed culturally and socially the general fear that men have of expressing their emotions.

Culturally, the expression of emotions was something associated with women only. Many men who felt comfortable enough to show or share their emotions were considered weak, therefore making men feel that they needed to present as “macho” in order to survive and avoid any potential for being labelled in that way.

It is apparent in many cultures that this stigma plays a key role in setting a standard for masculinity. This has led to an expectation that men, in particular, are not to express emotions nor be attune to their emotions.

What does this cultural norm regarding masculinity lead to?

1. These cultural norms can lead to men striving to be tough in physical or mental aspects, which studies have shown is linked to an avoidance of depressive symptoms and creates further barriers to men seeking out help for their mental health. (Sileo & Kershaw, 2020).

2. Given this culture of avoidance, men become fearful of their emotions and repress instead, potentially creating greater mental health concerns.

In my experience working with clients from my own culture, I have seen that the idea of being “macho”, in many cases, holds them back from engaging in the therapeutic process given the general fear around even showing the slightest of emotions. Many from my culture believe that showing emotion leads to the label of being mentally ill, which is an entirely different stigma altogether.

I hope through my work as a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) to break down some of these stigmas and create a space that is welcoming and judgement free for people from all different backgrounds to open up and seek the support that they need and to unpack some of the cultural expectations they may have grown up with.

I am able to provide services to those 14+ and can provide sessions in English or Arabic.

If you are interested in learning more about my approach to therapy and my previous professional experiences, feel free to contact Brant Mental Health Solutions at 519.302.2300 or email to book a free 15 minute consultation.

By Shiwan Ibrahim, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)