June is men’s health month, and health does not always refer to physical fitness. Men’s mental health is just as important as their ability to run a mile or play basketball with their friends. So why is it that people seem to avoid the subject of their emotional wellbeing? Did you know that boys are two times more likely to drop out of school? They are also two times more likely to receive special education and four times more likely to be expelled. With these heightened risk factors for male students, why is it still less common for males to receive mental health counseling?
Were you aware that ninety three percent of boys are exposed to porn before the age of 18? An additional twenty three percent of males use porn every day. Furthermore, shockingly only 22 states require schools to teach sexual education. According to psychologytoday.com during the time between 12 and 20 years old, young men’s brains go through a period of great neuroplasticity. This impressionable time leads to them being heavily influenced by the things they see and hear. This means that when young men watch porn, they learn an unrealistic and sometimes violent idea of normality and sexuality which can have a lasting impression on their psyche. These unrealistic ideals, impossible to achieve in real life, can create lasting cognitive dissonance and leave men feeling out of touch with reality and their interpersonal relationships.
It is important that the parents of young men in our community raise their sons to know the importance of interpersonal connection and relationships. They should be encouraged those sexual encounters are not separate from personal connection. In a world where human trafficking is creating victims, raise our sons to be protectors and leaders. During men’s health awareness month, it is important to keep in mind the difficulties that male adolescents face in a world changed by social media and the internet. With the right education and awareness, we can raise men who are comfortable talking about their own mental health. These men will grow up to be well rounded healthy individuals who can be leaders and protectors in our ever-changing communities.