“Traditional masculine norms, such as being tough and self-reliant mean that many young men learn to avoid expressing emotions or behaviours that show vulnerability. These dominant social norms have also been identified as a barrier to health professionals recognising mental health problems in young men.”

Keeping it real – reimagining mental health care for all young men, Orygen The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health.

In an age where traditional masculine norms are still so prevalent, it is imperative that we model and inspire our young men with the importance of expressing emotions and showing vulnerability.  In order to develop, maintain and increase personal relationships, the “toxic masculinity” inherent in our culture needs to be challenged.

We can all take small steps towards turning this around by being mindful of our own actions but also by “calling out” actions, behaviours or even words when they are not appropriate or inexcusable.

Boys need our assistance to develop the language to express themselves more fully but also need to be provided with safe spaces within which to practice and learn these fundamental communication skills.

I have witnessed these barriers eroding through my experience in running “circles” with boys and girls of many different ages.  When a safe space is created where there are no judgements, individuals contribute their own personal experience and authentically listen to one another. It is quite amazing to observe the development of connection and relationships formed by simply sharing.

In order to address the increase in mental health problems in young people and to shift the “traditional masculine norms,” we owe it to our young people to create the opportunities, spaces and language for them to fully and authentically express themselves.

To find out more about The Rites of Passage Institute and how we can assist with creating these opportunities, head to ritesofpassageinstitute.org/program-bookings