How best can men express their emotions?


What you need to know:

  • Different global reports show that men commit suicide more than women, due to unrecognised mental health struggles, stigma and cultural barriers they are passing through.

Dar es Salaam. Regardless of their body language or the words uttered by men, most of them are either depressed or struggling to hide their emotions because of their sex.

Different global reports show that men commit suicide more than women, due to unrecognised mental health struggles, stigma and cultural barriers they are passing through.

Most of the time, these struggles, stigma, and cultural norms prohibit them from crying, rather, they are forced to remain strong under all circumstances.

Further reports have indicated that most men commit suicide more than the trend reported for their female counterparts.

In 2019, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death among individuals aged 15 to 29 across the world, with the majority of them occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

A study by Arise Network involving six countries in Sub-Saharan Africa shows high incidences of suicidal behaviours, including suicidal ideation, planning, and attempts, among others.

Furthermore, reports indicated that over the last 12 months, the prevalence of suicidal behaviours ranged between 1.2 percent and 12.4 percent in the seven countries.

A cross-section study by the African Academy for Public Health in the Tanga Region located in Eastern Tanzania shows that two out of every 100 adolescents have attempted to commit suicide in their lifetime.

The report established that adolescents out of the school systems were at higher suicidal risk than their counterparts in schools.

The trend has developed into big names in society with the recent incidents involving some of the clergymen in Tanzania.

Some of them are former Tanga-based Roman Catholic clergyman Rogassion Massawe, and the Methodist Church with a workstation in the country’s administrative capital, Dodoma, Bishop Joseph Bundala.

Reflecting on the growing concern, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) psychiatrist, Dr Said Kuganda, said social expectations make men look like strong beings who mark their territories and have to be strong and avoid crying.

He said the notion has led to men’s failure to communicate their feelings, needs, and emotions and leaves them with depression and anxiety.

“Even in suicide attempts, men make so many unsuccessful attempts as compared to their female counterparts, who develop into successful killings,” said Dr Kuganda.

Sharing his ordeal, Mr Edward Kimath*, 45, said he did not share the bad news of his sudden dismissal from employment with his wife and the entire family, instead, he opted to venture into a business activity.

“Unfortunately, the business collapsed two years later, and I divorced my lovely wife four years later. I was forced to secure a loan from a microfinance institution using forged documents,” he said.

“Despite hiding the news of my sacking from employment, I planned to share the information after the business had thrived. However, the business didn’t bloom due to a lack of supervision,” he said.

Furthermore, he was forced to spend most of his time indoors, despite the efforts made by his wife to stop him from spending most of his time behind closed doors to avoid friends and other family members.

According to him, his forceful abandonment of staying indoors triggered the fierce confrontation with his wife, who fled his home and filed for divorce a month later.

“Despite securing a Sh15 million loan to start another business, part of the money was used for servicing the loan, and the remaining amount isn’t enough for the intended venture,” he shared.

The Dar es Salaam-based psychologist Saldin Kimangale said men tend to hide their emotions because society believes that they are strong and competitive in all circumstances.

He said that with changes in lifestyle and increased challenges facing men, it is important they are assisted to identify their problems and respective resolution measures.

“Women are advised to remain respectful and obedient without judging their husbands as well as supporting them in taking the right avenues to resolve their challenges,” he said.

Furthermore, he suggested that men should support each other without making judgments, noting that the move will make it easy for those facing problems to open up and share the turbulence they are passing through.

“Leaving them to struggle in loneliness can end up hurting themselves and their families, especially close members including children and wives,’’ he said, adding that accumulating things in men’s hearts leads to family breakups and divorce.

“As a result, children will not be well-parented, resulting in increasing street children and cases of mental health disorders,” he added.

Dr Kuganda was of the view that the formation of men's clubs would bring them together, discuss challenges they are facing, and collective resolution measures.

“Experts should be there to guide them on the best way to resolve their grievances. As a result, they are unable to work effectively and make the right decisions,” he suggested.

He said this should go along with the right time for men to be able to attend the clubs, as most of them are working during the day.