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Men-Tell Health

“Is it ‘okay’ to be a man in modern society?” as a male therapist I share my thoughts on masculinity and mental health

Posted December 12, 2022 · 7 min read

One question that is coming up more and more in sessions with male therapy clients is:

Is it ‘okay’ to be a man in modern society?

The obvious answer is 'of course, why wouldn't it be?'

Well…lots of reasons.

I’ve wanted to write about men’s mental health for some time.  

However, I sincerely understand that discussing identity can be sensitive. And my views/beliefs may risk some readers feeling excluded.

This is certainly not my intention.

We all have one blood - no one individual or group has precedence over another.

This article is simply my thoughts, opinions and is open to criticism.

Whether discussing gender, race, religion, or even your name. One of the ironies of identity is that from birth we are ‘given’ specific characteristics (regardless how we define or characterise them). Then spend the rest of our lives passionately defending a somewhat fictional identity.

The social, biological and cultural components of identity, make it difficult to define what it means to be a man in a universally accepted way.

The topic of masculinity in mental health is important to me: personally, as a former male therapy client and professionally as a male therapist.

And I believe that parts of our culture have lost faith in masculinity.

Views that promote divisions and hatred among people, the spread of misinformation and push propaganda are more accessible for people than ever before.

Within minutes online, you can find yourself lost in an echo chamber of ideological ‘debate’.

Recent trends have seen a few men rising to popularity based on portraying themselves as the personification and embodiment of what it means to be a man.

While some comments can be positive and inspiring. Others contain little beyond ludicrous views, motivated by hate and self-serving ends while being presented and justified as ‘motivational’.

Words have the power to bring us together or tear us apart. Such views can be very influential on impressionable (often younger and already angry) men.

And serves to deepen a profound nihilism and hatred among and towards what it means to be a man.


Each statistic represents a real person, with more men than ever before seeking help.

And the more men who open up about their mental health challenges, the more other men realise they are not alone.

  • 88% of men agree mental health has a higher public profile than five years ago
  • 79% of men agree it’s more socially acceptable to discuss mental health than five years ago
  • 78% of men say it’s more commonplace to discuss mental health than five years ago
  • 68% of men say there’s less of a stigma around mental health compared to five years ago
  • 83% of men say it’s a good idea to seek counselling or psychotherapy for a problem before it gets out of hand
  • 71% of men say people might be happier if they talked to a counsellor or psychotherapist about their problems
  • 69% of men say it’s better for people to talk to someone about their problems rather than to take medication

(Source: BACP)

It's impossible to discuss male mental health statistics without highlighting the male suicide rate.

In 2021, there were 6319 suicides in the United Kingdom, with 75% of them being men (565 males, 188 females).

And suicide is the 'leading cause of death' among males under the age of 50.

With suicide rates greater in minority male populations: homosexual men, war veterans, men from BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds, and men from low-income homes.

Modernity & Masculinity

In my opinion, when men don't feel wanted, they try to make themselves needed.

When men aren’t wanted or needed, they lack purpose and suffer.

While women are frequently objectified based on looks, men are often judged on their status, abilities to provide and protect.

“Toxic masculinity” in particular is a stereotypical 'socially acceptable' phrase I dislike.

Words/Phrases stereotyping men (or any group) have the consequence of generalising the 'good' of masculinity in with the 'bad'.

While inappropriately and casually defining 'what it means to be a man' as something pathological and oppressive.

To male readers, have you ever been told:

  • Men don’t cry
  • Men are strong
  • Nice guys finish last
  • I remember when men used to be men
  • You’re too sensitive
  • Man up
  • Feelings are weakness

Any civilised person will agree that humans are more than stereotypes. These gender stereotypes have been oversimplified so much that their offensiveness is almost lost to the comedy.

I've lost count of the number of men I've heard saying that they view emotions as a sign of weakness.

An outdated stereotype that is sadly still present and sometimes reinforced in modern culture.

In one study, for example, different sex's were treated differently when they behaved in the same way. Men who sobbed at work were regarded less capable than women who cried at work (see more 'here').

These masculine stereotypes, in my opinion, are one of the more major barriers to men getting support.

In some tragic cases, it’s killing them.

There is no virtue in suffering for sufferings sake. And because ‘you’re a man’ isn’t an excuse.

If you've been suffering for a while, don't keep suffering to prove a point. Admitting that there is a problem is one of the hardest things you can do.

I recently spoke with the BACP about this issue and 'men in therapy':

“For men, therapy can be a liberating place to address the pressures connected with preconceptions and challenges of manhood without being seen as weak. Therapy offers a lens to refine perspectives and transform the way we think about what it means to be a man is helping tear down barriers to accessing support. But while we as practitioners know therapy can offer a place of accountability and purpose: not merely asking "how do you feel?" does the everyday man know this? Do we do a good enough job communicating to men what we actually do?”

There are several reasons why men may seek help, including, but not limited to:

  • Traumatic life events
  • Relationship issues
  • Employment issues
  • Substance use
  • Physical health problems
  • Isolation

Working with men, the most frequent issue(s) I encounter is loneliness, a lack of purpose, and a sense of being invisible.

Not only are they lonely and invisible in the physical sense, but they also feel alone and unnoticed with their problems.

Responsible Masculinity

So “Is it ‘okay’ to be a man in modern society?”

It depends on who the judge is, who is asking the question, and why they are asking it.

Whether male, female, trans or non-binary - the world can be fiercely harsh and wicked.

Our vulture culture seems happy to make people suffer social shame, regardless of who they are or their stance on objective morality.  

Then after the damage is done, reflect on the lessons they will not learn and repeat the same mistakes (#bekind).

We are all related through one blood. We share a moral responsibility to care for each other where we can.

The cliches of "being a man," "man up," and "emotions are weakness" all influence the troubling male suicide rate.

These ill-informed views, to be honest, bore me with their simplicity.

As does the demonization of men: that all men are somehow pathological and oppressive by nature.

Emotions are not a sign of weakness; the role of emotion is to help you survive and offer you lessons.

I disagree that showing weakness is a sign of strength; strength and weakness can coexist, but they are not the same thing.

I feel demonstrating vulnerability is a sign of gentle strength.

Masculinity demands vulnerability to be truly strong. And demands that strength to be compassionate and responsible.

The combination of strength, vulnerability with responsibility is my definition of masculinity.

Responsibility is the ability to respond. 

It’s learning the ability to bare the burdens of life and walk forward. And not destroying what good there is in you in the process.

I don't believe masculinity is 'toxic'. But is the personification of someone who can respond to their own and others' situations in a humane and measured way.

Taking responsibility for being the good they wish to see in the world.

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible

Victor Frankl

People have the incredible potential to change the direction of their lives. Your personal experience can assist you in teaching you what you need to learn.

And if you change, the world will change for you.

But if you don’t, then nothing will change.

If you are reading this and are struggling, one change you can do is to get help.

Overcome the stigmas, distance yourself from hateful role models with destructive self-serving opinions and outdated stereotypes.

Educate yourself to learn to pay attention: think critically about why you think what you think and what makes you who you are.

Develop a vision of who you want to be in the world, take on some responsibility and realise you have a role to play in this world.

Marcus Aurelius sums it up perfectly:

Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one


If you or anyone you know needs support please visit:

Getting started

To arrange an appointment, you can email me at or contact the First Psychology Services Team on 0141 404 5411.


Andrew Kidd

Senior Psychological Therapist MBACP (Accred) | EMDR Europe Accredited Practitioner

0141 404 5411


The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of other persons/organisations working in partnership with Andy Kidd Counselling. This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. All liability concerning actions taken or not based on the contents of this site are hereby expressly disclaimed. The information and other content provided or any linked materials should not be construed as advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional psychological treatment.