Why Social Connection is Crucial for Men's Overall Well-Being
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the rate of suicide in the US is highest for middle-aged white men. In 2021, men died by suicide at a rate almost 4x more than women. White males accounted for almost 70% of suicide deaths in 2021.
Oliver Anthony highlighted the crisis of masculine mental health in his smash hit, Rich Men North of Richmond:
Young men are puttin' themselves six feet in the ground,
'Cause all this damn country does is keep on kickin' them down
There is no easy explanation for the current malaise of masculine mental health. As a therapist, my focus is on understanding human needs and how these are frustrated in our society. One way to understand our current crisis of masculinity is to highlight the profound disconnection of men. We live in a society that discourages male relatedness and this results in a decline in mental health.
Social connection is crucial for men's overall well-being.
Relatedness is a Core Human Need
Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm believed that relatedness is a core human need. According to Fromm, alienation or disconnection is the, "central problem of mental health." Men are born to exist and thrive within the context of mutual relationships. When men are disconnected from others, they experience isolation. Isolation is poison to the human spirit. When men are condemned to isolation they go insane.
At a societal level, young boys are socialized out of connection with others.Niobe Way writes elegantly about the way our society instigates a "crisis of connection" for adolescent males. By gendering relatedness as feminine, society encourages males to "man up" by disconnecting from others and developing a stoic persona. Vulnerability and intimate friendships get coded as feminine and not appropriate for men.
Fromm would argue that relatedness is a fundamental human need; a need as important for men as it is for women. The problem is not men. The problem is a culture that clashes with our nature.
Three Benefits of Social Connection For Men
There is solid research that suggests positive social connection is crucial for a man's overall well-being. Here are three tangible benefits of positive social connection for men:
#1: Relatedness Can Help Reduce Stress
A UC Berkeley study showed that men who bond and share a meaningful connection experience a decrease in stress. While therapy can be a place to learn stress-reduction strategies, there is nothing like men connecting with each other at a true, authentic level.
#2: Connection Improves Overall Health
Low oxytocin levels have been linked to depression. The Berkeley study mentioned above found a strong correlation between strong friendships and increased levels of oxytocin. The study concluded that male connections can contribute to a longer and healthier life.
#3: Relatedness Can Increase Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is our ability to identify, manage, and communicate our emotions in our relationships. Strong EQ can fortify your romantic relationship and improve your experience at work. Male friendships are a testing ground of emotions and feeling states. Expressing these to your friends and receiving feedback can be one important way you stretch and challenge your EQ.
Two Ideas for Making A Friend Connection as a Man
Maintaining friendships is one very important way that a man can counter the feelings of isolation and disconnection. Here are two ideas for making a friend connection as a man:
#1: Reconnect with Old Friends
It's never too late to reconnect with an old friend. Is there someone from high school, college or a previous job that you enjoyed hanging out with but you lost contact? Look them up on social media and send them a DM. Although it may be awkward to reconnect, you'll have a history to lean on and likely some shared interests.
#2: Make New Connections
It's harder to make new friends when you are busy with work, family and other life commitments. Some people join a religious organization, an affinity group on Meetup or get to know their neighbors. Men's Group is an online self-improvement group that exists to create community and conversation for guys.
Therapy For Men Can Help
Therapy for Men can help you as a man identify your unhealthy patterns and learn how to create new healthy patterns. One of the ways to help you bring make better connections is to sign up for therapy for men. A male therapist is someone you can trust and develop a relationship with.
A male therapist can also work with you to develop goals and healthy coping strategies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT) is one of the most effective ways to work with men. CBT is a short-term, problem focused approach. CBT is effective at treating a variety of problems.
Start Your Therapy For Men Journey with Quique Autrey: Katy, Tx & Houston
You do not have to do this alone. If you don't know what to do next, please contact me and set up your first appointment. I am here to help. I can work with you to bring healing and hope. I'm just off of I-10 and 99. I am centrally located for those living in Katy and Houston. To start your therapy for men, follow these simple steps:
1. Contact Katy Counseling For Men
2. Schedule your first appointment with Quique Autrey.
3. Begin your therapy for men journey and start healing. You are not defined by your struggles. I want you to realize your true worth and potential. I want you to embrace a bright future. Imagine what life will look like for you free of struggles. The mission at Katy Counseling For Men is to partner with men to remove the obstacles of today so that men can build a stronger tomorrow.