I recently saw a video of an African man in tears because his girlfriend had broken up with him and would not answer his calls while his ‘friends’ made mockery of him.
“Depression is a white man’s disease.”
“Don’t you see how they cry at the least thing and always have to see a therapist for this or that? “
“Depressed? You need prayers”
These statements are rather too common among the Ghanaian society. Depression is an illness, just like malaria, cancer or anything else. They do not define anyone. In most parts of Africa (Ghana) depression is not a thing to be discussed.
Most reported suicide cases are among men. Why are we emasculating our young boys? As babies when they fall or trip or hurt themselves, we tell them in one of our local languages, Twi “Barima Nsu” meaning, “Men don’t cry.” Really? Don’t they bleed blood? Are they not human?
Why do men tease their fellow men when they are genuinely in need of someone to talk to? Someone to be vulnerable with. Women tend to talk to other women but what about men? They are designed to retreat into their cave, to recharge and come out stronger or more energized.
Who can they talk to without ridicule, without being subjected to jeers and being mocked as being a sissy. There are many platforms that have been created like My Dear Sister’s Keeper and The Strong Woman just to name a few. Where are those groups for men? Who is supporting them? Why are they encouraged to man up when it is okay for them to not be okay?
Why does society drive them to bottle things up and resort to drinking, violence, seclusion or suicide as a solution to their challenges? Who advocates for our fathers and brothers?
What role have we even played as friends, sisters or brothers to make it easy for our men to open up to us without fear? How do we expect them to reach out when we do not have our arms stretched out to them?
The issue of mental health in Ghana is beginning to get some attention. I’ve seen the likes of Kobby Blay a health blogger champion this cause through social media and his Healthnest blog, however we still have a long way to go concerning mental health and the stigma associated with it.