Men’s mental health was hit harder by Covid-19

Men facing mental breakdown experience psychological, emotional as well as behavioural changes. [Courtesy]

Traditionally, men have been looked upon as the providers and heads of households. This has seen many men left to shoulder financial burdens even when they do not have an income and are at their breaking points mentally.

Because of societal stigma towards men showing or even speaking about their distressing emotions, men have had to keep going even when they are at their wits end.

Diminished income due to Covid-19 pandemic has further perpetuated emotional issues among men such as low self-esteem identity crisis, shame and even fear when they contemplate the future.

The shame that men experience is not only limited to how society views them when they don’t have an income but also how their dependants view them.

Most men derive their sense of identity from the ability to provide. When this is taken away, they start to question not only their identity as men but even their self-worth.

Unlike women who can spend hours talking on the phone and “catching up” without necessarily having to meet in person, men prefer to socialise in person with their peers over a game of sports or a drink.  

Covid-19 containment measures led to restrictions of social gatherings and even social outlets such as eateries, pubs, movie theatres, performing arts theatres etc. These restrictions led to feelings of being constrained and lack form of social connections.

Now picture this; John, a 28-year-old married man working in one of the public hospitals in Nairobi, shares his experience having lost his job last year at the height of the pandemic.

Despite being highly qualified with a Bachelor’s degree in economics as well as being a chartered accountant, he found himself jobless with no alternative source of income. John says not having an income was the most difficult part for him compared to being forced to stay at home.

Despite the fact that his wife was comfortably providing for their five-year-old daughter, John shares that he felt inadequate as a man and felt embarrassed that the wife had to take up his responsibility.

Men facing mental breakdown experience psychological, emotional as well as behavioural changes. Behavioural changes to look out for include onset of or worsening of alcohol/ substance use, engaging in risk taking behaviours like unsafe sex, gambling and avoiding social events.

-Senior clinical psychologist at Mediheal Group of Hospitals