For nearly two decades, men across the country have commemorated November as Men’s Health Month. They honor the occasion by growing out their beards and embracing their "brohood." The month is meant to raise awareness about testicular and prostate cancer.
The part of the month of manliness that sometimes goes uncovered, however, is raising awareness about men’s mental health and suicide prevention. In a culture of toxic masculinity where men are more likely to die by suicide but less likely to go to therapy, it's worth finding space for this conversation too.
Men need to find space to talk about their feelings in an open and vulnerable way, not just this month, but year-round.
One way I've been able to open the door to these intimate conversations is by sharing music. I send my friends songs that make me think of them or that I think they’ll enjoy.
It’s an easy conversation starter, but it also creates a common space over something deeply personal.
For example, just as soon as you’ve sent your bro "Big Girls Don’t Cry" by Fergie, you’re both diving deep about the ways you both have some serious straightening out to do. Or you’re embracing your inner Swiftie and listening to “this is me trying” and soon you find you’ve really both been having a hard time adjusting recently.
Music is its own sense of therapy. By no means is it a replacement for professional help, but it can dramatically help improve mood. Researchers have even found music to potentially reduce depression and anxiety, as well as to improve mood, self-esteem and quality of life.
In honor of Men’s Health Month, I made a playlist of songs focused on the personal struggle of mental health. While the style of the songs is a bit all over the place, the goal was to make clear that mental health is an ongoing and difficult battle.
As Mt. Joy said, “All of my favorite people, they don’t march to the beat of your drum.” And that is what I hope for you. As you march to the beat of your own drum, I hope you find solace in the little moments and be a person you are proud to know.
Taking control of your mental battles can be difficult and often overwhelming, but I hope you are working toward becoming someone you are proud to know. Embrace vulnerable conversations with your friends of all genders, and form meaningful connections in times of hardship. Be a good friend to others, but a better friend to yourself — because you deserve the grace and kindness you give to so many others.
I hope these songs can provide a gateway to those vulnerable, needed conversations about your wellbeing and mental health. Enjoy.
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