For many, the misguided need to preserve family reputation and status can lead to staying silent about real feelings. Within the Global Indian community for generations men are perceived as the so-called “rock” or “bread-winners” of the family, not an entirely healthy notion of masculinity. Such views result in a kind of cultural stigmatisation surrounding mental health, which can make it difficult for men to speak out about important issues.
Here, 'iGlobal' takes a closer look at the difficult issue of men's mental health within the Global Indian community through the prism of some expert comments on why mental health remains a kind of taboo subject and the very personal and inspirational journey of Rahul Verma who took affirmative action to combat his depression.
Chaitanya Lila Pankhania is a Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist who is active in the sphere of mental health and combines East-West psychology techniques.
On why men may choose to remain silent, she notes: “Men's suicide rates are higher than women. I think this is due to the fact that women talk more about how they feel; when they do this, their depressive symptoms alleviate.
“Many men however do not seek help when feeling depressed. The narrative to 'be strong' or 'get on with it' is killing men, especially when they run into problems they cannot solve in life. We are all human at the end of the day and hit roadblocks in life, we have emotions we have to manage and life issues to resolve.
“Men need to begin to understand that expecting themselves to not feel what they feel or have all aspects of their life in order is not helping them. They need to find healthy coping strategies to support their mental health and talk when they need to.”?
According to Mens Mind Matter, each year one in four people will experience a mental health problem, with suicide being the biggest killed of men under 35. Men are also less likely than women to seek treatment for their condition - only one in four men who experience anxiety or depression seek treatment for it.
Dr Amal Lad is a GP trainee from Birmingham who is passionate about mental health within Britain's South Asian community and using creative approaches to improve awareness. He developed the Meducasian project, a collaboration between healthcare professionals and local communities to break the stigma.
Having seen first-hand the impact of mental health, he explains: “The South Asian perspective of mental health is unique concerning the stigma and the stereotypes surrounding mental health. For men, it can become difficult to speak about their feelings as there is no language for it.”?
The Meducasian project aims to break these barriers and address stigmatisation by visiting community places like temples and gurdwaras, where they interact with members of the community and get the conversation on mental health going by de-medicalising it.
Dr Lad adds: “In my experience, when it becomes a medical problem that you have to see a doctor, it becomes difficult for South Asians to talk about. Through using all of the great things about the Indian culture like Bollywood, cricket, and festivals, we aim to stimulate these conversations.”