What Are The Stigmas Men Face When Going Through Trauma?

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What Are The Stigmas Men Face When Going Through Trauma?

Despite progress within gender spheres, men are still expected to appear tough and not show any signs of weakness. For this reason, many men who are going through trauma hesitate to get help. It’s common for men to avoid seeking help because of a fear of judgment and stigma. However, avoiding professional help can potentially make one’s situation worse. Leaving traumas unaddressed can lead to increased feelings of fear and anxiety and contribute to unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Gender Norms: Masculinity

As stated in The Journal of Adolescent Health, masculine gender norms can start in early adolescence. For example, society throughout the years has expected males to present several masculine characteristics throughout life. Little boys should play with GI Joes rather than rock a baby doll. Teen boys should start playing sports rather than doing ballet. Men should be the sole provider of the household and women should cook. Furthermore, masculine gender norms will generally include:

  • Showing higher tolerance for pain
  • Engaging in physical fights
  • Protecting and providing for families
  • Achieving financial independence
  • Hiding vulnerabilities
  • Being anti-femininity
  • Dealing with problems without empathetic support

What Is Stigma?

According to the American Journal of Men’s Health, stigmatism can be intricate and widespread. Mental-health stigma can include social, self, cultural, and professional stigma. Social stigma may refer to negative behaviors and disapproval from others regarding one’s mental health condition. For example, If a man presents symptoms of mental illness, he has a weak character. Such perceptions can lead to avoidance and rejection from others. Self-stigma can also play a factor. Men may internalize the negative statements from others and may feel shame for seeking mental health treatment or simply having the condition.

The Effects of Stigma While Going Through Trauma

When a majority of people in today’s world agree on social and masculine gender norms, this can make men feel defeated. It can make men even question their own identity. Social norms can cause men to act like someone they are not. If their character does not meet the standardized norms, they may feel completely left out.

Society’s expectations can prevent men from getting the professional care that they need. Toxic masculinity can cause one to be extremely affected by stigmatism from others. This can be especially true when going through periods of trauma. It often applies to the fear of judgment from family, friends, or peers.

Stigmatism from others can also cause co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression and or anxiety. Mistreatment from others may pressure men to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This may be done to suppress negative feelings which feels easier than reaching out for professional help. Seeking any sort of help can again be a sign of weakness in today’s world. Adherence to negative masculine norms and stigma may lead to:

  • Greater health risks
  • Problems with interpersonal violence
  • Increase in psychological distress
  • Isolation
  • Suicide

Responding to Stigma While Going Through Trauma

Experiencing trauma already comes with challenges. Learning to cope with trauma can be overwhelming for both men and women. For men, though, responding to trauma can be very difficult as showing emotion can be perceived as too feminine. This can be humiliating for some males.

It is important for men to stand by the facts. One fact is that everyone should feel safe to open up about their feelings. Another fact is that no one should have to adhere to rigid gender stereotypes and expectations.

Choosing empowerment over shame can greatly boost a male’s self-esteem. Often, when exposed to expressions of negativity from others, the best action is to not respond. This can show confidence. Most importantly, do not let stigma from others cause self-stigma.

Utilizing Trauma-Informed Care 

Trauma-informed care focuses on the underlying causes rather than the diagnosis itself. The first step is to ensure the client feels safe. This is done to help build trust so the client can feel comfortable enough to open up about the trauma experienced. Then an individualized treatment plan is created to incorporate a variety of effective services that gently reveal and address past traumas.

Choosing treatment for mental health conditions caused by trauma can help men find greater inner peace. Staying dedicated to treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of success with healing. Putting the skills learned in therapy into action when needed can help men effectively fight the stigmas they face. With the right help, recovery from trauma, negative stigmas, and resulting addictions is entirely possible.