Sunday November 19th: Well done, good and faithful servant!
November 19, 2023
Monday November 20th: Who is really blind?
November 20, 2023

Catholic Men Speak: Int’l Men’s Day 2023

Sunday, November 19 is International Men’s Day, designated to spotlight the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities.

It aims to highlight positive role models and raise awareness of men’s wellbeing. The theme for 2023 is Zero Male Suicide for people to work together to stop male suicide. According to the Ministry of Health’s website Trinidad and Tobago ranks third in the English-speaking Caribbean region for the highest suicide rates. The most common methods used are hanging and pesticide poisoning. Data on suicides indicate more males commit suicide than females. For 2019, there were 92 suicides recorded, 79 males and 13 females; 2020- 104- 83 males, 21 females and 2021 had 128-110 males and 18 females.

The Catholic News asked a few men: “What are the challenges men face which affect their mental health?”

Leslie Nelson, 66

“I suppose one would be their financial situation and the family situation particularly young children and the issues men generally have to cope with in relation to their relationship with their children; in particular men in relationship with their sons…Males, generally, have a perspective on life, and young men with all the challenges they face look to their fathers for assistance, for role models, but because of that issue of lack of role models, it is something that goes from generation to generation and some of us as adults have not dealt with…it manifests in issues leading to mental health.”

Liston Nicholas, 61

The demand to meet up the standards of being a father to supply the needs of your family, that in itself is a big challenge, to meet the grade…The demand from your wife–that is a real biggie, fulfilling the needs of your wife, financial especially. I work with a couple of men in the men’s ministry and a couple of the men come to me literally crying, all of the expectations, whereas in the past we didn’t have the additional bills to pay whether it is internet or extra lessons or stuff like that. A lot of the wives apply a lot of pressure on their husbands…with the men who are not married, the expectation of society to reach a certain level…I have a lot of interaction with a lot of the men on the block, they feel they cannot meet it, the standard, they cannot make what is demanded of them by society…You should have a nice car; you should have a nice home: that in itself is a psychological pressure. It is not the easiest thing to get a house right now–loans are really, really, high–and even if you are renting, the bills for the month come us as if it is every morning.

Daniel Francis, 32

A real safe space that encourages us to have conversations without having our walls up. We do not typically want to express our vulnerabilities through emotional expression because it is typically met with a negative reaction like combative responses or an assumption that we are weak or not man enough. Re-writing the conditioning that has us feeling emotionally constipated. To address the experiences that have made us this way, we need the safe spaces and access to mental health services. Access to mental health services is typically a problem because of the cost factor or the easily accessible information on how to access it and the different options available.

J’Lani De Four, 23

I think we subconsciously do not ask for help. Especially in the work environment when people offer and say, ‘it’s fine, ask for assistance’, I still feel I can’t. A lot of the time I think we feel we have to figure it out on our own…Even when I want to and know that I can, I struggle to ask for help. There were times, instances, with co-workers where they would see me flustered or they would see me overwhelmed and say ‘you don’t have to do it by yourself’…I still find it hard to come forward and be like, ‘I’m not understanding this’. I think there is the feeling we don’t want to be a burden, but I think we use that to cover up the fact that we just don’t think we could and a lot of guys even in the workspaces, the females just seem to be able to navigate it better. It might seem that asking for assistance means we are not at that level but, it is okay to ask for help.

Darendra Boodram, 25

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to men’s mental health and they all stem from socialisation. One of the major challenges I’ve seen, and I also have a tendency to do this, is not talk about what I’m going through, or we’re going through. Men tend to downplay their emotions, that it is not anger and frustration and it leads to a bigger challenge which is not seeking help. I think men’s mental health is a societal issue and it needs to be tackled at that level and I really hope that together we can improve the state of men’s mental health and maybe ultimately decrease the rate of suicide.