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How Toxic Masculinity Affects Boys Mental Health


In modern society aggression and harsh language among boys has become a common problem in schools across the nation. This is a problem we have seen up close and with our friends and we will bring to light just how bad it can get and the reasons we believe it’s happening.

Since the pandemic, many young people have lost a chunk of their social development and in turn have had less time to grow social connections. This has given way to sky-rocketing mental health issues throughout the world; especially in schools. Mental health has taken a great toll on boys, because of toxic masculinity, which has made them resort to bottling up their emotions, instead of seeking help.


In our experience being, and surrounded by young boys, we have seen how boys are treated and how they treat each other. The way boys become obsessed with trying to be the strongest or the most dominant is often to cover up insecurities. 


Recently we handed out a survey to the 8th graders, with questions like: “Do you believe it is good for people to have a proper way to express their emotions?” Or “When you are feeling intense emotions: anger, sadness etc. What do you do?” These questions were mainly centered on mental health and how lots of teenage boy behavior may affect or be affected by the things happening around them.


 There were a range of answers, almost all agreeing that boys don’t share enough and could potentially develop better habits to express themselves.  But could they? Multiple studies conducted by the National Library of Medicine state things like “American men are subjected to a culture where the standards of masculinity are literally killing them.” and “The results add to existing evidence for the importance of social connectedness for our well-being and open up new and interesting avenues of research into mere presence effects (Guerin, 1986; Levine et al., 1993), which have so far focused on performance in cognitive tasks rather than equally important effects in the emotional domain.”

Teenage years are an important period of development, and even though we are with our peers all day we know many people who feel isolated because they don’t know how to express themselves. The behavior of boys plays an important role in shaping the mental well-being of themselves and the people around them. From stereotypes on social media to societal pressures about masculinity, many boys feel like it isn’t masculine to share their feelings.

Many boys don’t feel comfortable sharing any emotions with their peers. Instead they trade insults or make jokes to mask their feelings. This can be made worse at school that can feel like a non stop competition. Boys are always comparing themselves to each other and when they feel like they aren’t good enough they might not show it but they feel terrible inside.

When boys start putting each other down to make themselves feel better, they are creating a cycle called “toxic masculinity”. This means that by making jokes about each other or acting like nothing bothers them they are turning their friends into an even more unsafe place.

In order to support boys better we need families, communities and schools involved. Here are some ways people can provide support and improve the mental well-being of boys: 

  • Encourage Expressing their Emotions: Create an environment where boys feel safe expressing their emotions without fear of judgment or ridicule. Encourage open communication and validate their feelings, emphasizing that it is okay to seek help when needed. 
  • Challenge Gender Norms: Challenge harmful stereotypes that equate masculinity with strength and lack of emotion. Promote positive representations of being male that embrace sensitivity, empathy, and healthy expressions of emotion. 
  • Provide Mental Health Education: Incorporate mental health support into school and athletics to raise awareness surrounding mental illness. Teach adolescents about coping mechanisms, stress management techniques, and the importance of seeking help from trusted adults or professionals.
  •  Promote Positive Role Models: Highlight positive male role models who demonstrate empathy, resilience, and vulnerability. Provide many representations of masculinity in media, literature, and popular culture to counteract harmful stereotypes. It’s especially important in family settings for young people to have positive role models who can share emotion in a healthy way.
  • Create Supportive Peer Networks: Foster supportive peer networks where boys can engage in healthy relationships and encourage each other to prioritize mental well-being. Promote empathy, kindness, and inclusivity within peer groups to create a sense of belonging and support. This is especially important on teams and in the classroom

As many advances as society has made, it seems there is still a struggle with toxic masculinity and it continues to limit young people and their ability to express themselves. There is still much to do to fix this problem in society but it starts with the little things like how we treat each other. Only if we continue to shine a light on this issue and normalize how challenging it can be for young men in society can we improve this situation.

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About the Contributors
Oliver Valente
Oliver Valente, Writer and Sports Editor
Oliver Valente is the oldest of three and has lived in the valley his whole life. His mom is from Thailand and his dad was born and raised in San Anselmo. He has played sports his entire life and will report on sports this year with Skyler Miller. He loves baseball more than anything and is looking forward to baseball in the fall and basketball in the winter.
Tanner Lewis
Tanner Lewis, Writer
Tanner Lewis is a 13 year old student who grew up in a mix of Cotati, Woodacre, and Forest Knolls. Tanner enjoys listening to music and playing sports with friends. He is looking forward to a great 8th grade year.    
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