Entertainment and Lifestyle

Men, it’s okay not to be okay…mental health is real

Catherine Njiru

Brian Kibet Bera, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student, who recently invaded State House, is allegedly mentally distressed. And so are many young men today, so many more. It’s a catastrophe to say the least, a national disaster in the making. Kinuthia, the Chuka University guy who allegedly killed his girlfriend and later on committed suicide, the father who wiped out his whole family, the cop who killed himself… the list is endless.

Not to say that women aren’t committing suicide, but if the cases highlighted are anything to go by, then the boy-child bears the burden. It’s heavy on young men— the pressure, seriously weighing them down. The pressure to make something out of themselves has thrown young men into anxiety and depression. Still the culture of silence has suppressed the issue because hey, amidst this tough economic times, who has time for these white man diseases; depression and anxiety?  We live in a country where the only things that qualify as illness are those things that sentence you in a bed complete with drips running through your arms, multi-coloured wires in and out of your nose would be an ‘added advantage’.

See society, cliché as it may sound, builds the idea of the man as the reliable bastion of strength.  Patriarchal society. He’s supposed to be the provider, a macho figure who is always up for challenge regardless of whatever he has to deal with.  He’s supposed to be the carrier of burdens, not the man who draws other people’s attention to his own. When he does, we call them slay kings. ‘These men of today, complete sissies,’ we gossip.

So, he tries hard to not appear weak, he unhealthily suppresses his issues. Then the culture of silence spreads from relationships/marital challenges to mental health. If a man has a problem, he deals with it, no cry-babies on the table of men please!

Whatever happened to bromance/ bro codes/bro bro…just bro anything that you’d feel comfortable divulging issues to a brother?  Because the implications of not talking is disastrous. Some fight it until nothing makes sense anymore, they commit suicide. Others lash it out, Kinuthia style and end up regretting their whole lives. Others, despite the heavy security at State House believe a kitchen knife will David their way through Goliath. These sick men are out there, disguised in slim-fit suits, matching belts and shoes, cheers babaa half-coats, heck even the annoying masaunyas. They are there. They’re our brothers. Our uncles. Our nephews. Our husbands. Our friends. Our sponsors. Our side dishes. But the only way you can help them, is to first let them know it’s okay not to be okay. And most importantly it’s okay to talk.

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