Home Lifestyle Community activist says negative cultural and behavioural conceptions of masculinity are inextricably...

Community activist says negative cultural and behavioural conceptions of masculinity are inextricably linked to men’s mental health

Ntsikelelo Mzibomvu, visual artist and community activist at Activate Change Drivers. Picture supplied.

Mzimbovu points out that despite the disturbing suicide figures men face, they are not all that shocking. There isn’t even a strategy for effective healing to address our country’s division’s problems.

He adds: “In the last two years, I know of at least three men within my circles that committed suicide. In some cases, men go as far as taking their partners’ lives. So the issue of men’s mental health, linking to toxic societal and behavioural ideas of masculinity, needs urgent and honest interrogation,” he told IOL Lifestyle.

The effects of this impending pandemic are severe because they suggest that one of the main supports of the family system has been compromised, which concerns the stability of the family structure. To hold the integrity of the family unit, both pillars should be in sound physical and mental condition.

He points out that the “every man for himself” philosophy readily supports negative behaviours like greed and a general disregard for other people and their rights. Few people have fathers who are close enough to them to impart the importance of being honest with oneself and others. I’ve come across a lot of brothers who would rather tell a large lie than face the not-so-big truth, which is not necessary for a society attempting to rebuild.

This goes on to suggest that we lie to ourselves more often than we seize the chance to mould and develop our character. To a certain extent, we are reluctant to face our true selves. In saying this, I’m merely attempting to argue that social and individual discord cannot be maintained while mental wellness is present. Mental health demonstrates a balanced viewpoint, said the activist.

He adds: “The most crucial challenges are reuniting families and fostering harmony in our homes and public spaces. From this perspective, we can establish policies that support the conditions needed for males to be involved in their children’s lives.

“Whenever we share authentic insights with others, it gives them the freedom to be honest with themselves. Whether they agree or not isn’t as important as the courage we give by opening up,” said Mzibomvu.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.