Advice / all

“Admit to yourself that your emotions are valid and normal, because they are,” says VOX ATL staff writer Cayla Lamar about men’s mental health.

Illustrated by Cayla Lamar

Dear Men, You are not a Sissy. Your Emotions are Valid.

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In 2020 we have opened the conversation around mental health more than we ever have as a society. Even though this is true, men still don’t have as much leeway to talk about their mental health struggles compared to their women peers. This is because we as a society label men who openly talk about their emotions as gay or less than a “real man.” This puts unnecessary pressure on boys to neglect their emotions out of fear that they will be labeled something that doesn’t resonate with who they feel they are as people.

What most men fail to understand is by neglecting their emotions they are neglecting one of the most important parts of themselves. This is because as humans we have both masculine and feminine energy, no matter what gender we identify as. This is seen in Ancient Chinese Philosophy as the Yin and the Yang. The Yin and Yang represent the coexistence of masculine and feminine, and dark and light energy. If a man neglects his feminine/emotional side, it is believed that he will have a hard time being a nurturing partner or parent. Also by neglecting their emotions, men are more likely to be attracted to partners who neglect their emotions. This leads to emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive relationships. This in time worsens their mental health. 

In order to stop this continuous cycle, men have to be honest with themselves and the people around them about any internal issues they may be having. This may seem like a hard idea to grasp because according to the The University of Rochester, men may have a hard time accepting they have a mental illness because “they may see it as weakness rather than a treatable illness.” And I don’t believe this is entirely the man’s fault, because as a society we still uphold outdated gender roles, simply because that’s how we were conditioned to think. For example, telling a young boy that he should not cry when he’s obviously upset because he’s not a “sissy” is detrimental to that child’s mental and emotional health. This shows him that his emotions are invalid and unnatural.

At some point we’re going to have to acknowledge that this affects men to the point where they not only kill themselves four times more than women, but they also kill themselves more violently compared to women, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

To further my research I asked three different men, from three different age groups the same questions. Here are their answers.


Jabari, 17

Q: When you go through something upsetting, do you feel comfortable sharing your emotions or feelings with someone you are close with?

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A: “No, I typically don’t talk about my emotions with other people. I usually just talk it out with myself.”

Q: Do you feel like you hold in your emotions or how you feel about things?

A: “Yes, all the time just because I try to avoid conflict at all costs.”

Q: Do you feel like this is healthy for your mental health? Why?

A: “I know it’s not [healthy] because repressing your emotions can come out in other parts of your life. Like it can make me come off as passive aggressive.”  

BC, 23

Q: When you go through something upsetting, do you feel comfortable sharing your emotions or feelings with someone you are close with?

A: “It depends on what it is I’m upset about. If it’s something small I feel more inclined to talk about it; if it’s something more personal or upsetting I feel like I have to go through my own thought process before I share with anyone else.” 

Q: Do you feel like you hold in your emotions or how you feel about things?

A: “It depends on how sensitive the situation is, but I feel like I’m very outspoken on most things.”

Q: Do you feel like being outspoken is healthy or harmful for your mental health? Why?

A: “Personally, yes, because I don’t really have a chip on my shoulder because I get what I need off my chest.”

Michael, 35

Q: When you go through something upsetting, do you feel comfortable sharing your emotions or feelings with someone you are close with?

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A: “No, I don’t because I don’t like being that person that kills the mood or in better words be a downer.”

Q: Do you feel like you hold in your emotions or how you feel about things?

A: “Yes, I find it hard to explain things to people generally speaking because I’m not an outgoing type of speaker.” 

Q: Do you feel like this is healthy for your mental health? Why?

A: “I do feel like it is healthy because it helps me avoid conflict. Therefore, I feel like I lead a pretty easy life in regards to my social life.” 


For those who may be struggling with mental health, life can begin to feel hopeless. You may feel like your brain is your worst enemy and that there’s no hope for the future. I assure you this is not the case.

Building a good relationship with your emotions is not easy, but it’s not impossible. You must first admit to yourself that your emotions are valid and normal, because they are. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not have a good relationship with their emotions and they are projecting their insecurities or misunderstandings onto you.

The next thing you should do is find a healthy outlet for your emotions. The possibilities are endless. Whether that be writing down all your emotions, talking to someone who cares for you, or even if you just talk to yourself. There is no shame in self-soothing. Which brings me to my next tip, which is being more compassionate with yourself. In my opinion, talking badly or even thinking badly about yourself can negatively impact your mental health the most.

When you catch yourself going back to negative thinking patterns, force yourself to say something nice about yourself. It may not seem like much, but you’re actually reprogramming your mind. And lastly, be patient with yourself: You won’t just wake up and be better after one day of using these tips. But you are taking the first step to better yourself, and that is the ultimate expression of self love.

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