Reflections upon our project

Our project began out of an interest in exploring assumptions surrounding gender stereotypes and the uncertainties that are produced by having fixed representations of maleness portrayed in mainstream media. We quickly settled on focusing our research on male mental health, as we were all concerned about the current male mental health crisis and believed that the fixed gender stereotypes that the media reinforces, may be negatively impacting male mental health and contributing to this mental health crisis. Whilst this broad framework still captures the contours set for our discussion, the expectations I held for what our research would demonstrate were not entirely confirmed. After analysing masculinity through media and literary representations and analysing psychological studies, gendered health care reports we have found that whilst masculinity more broadly has negative impacts upon mental health, it seems that only very specific aspects of masculinity are having a profound impact upon male mental health and limit men from expressing their emotions.

What, for me has been most interesting, is considering the manner in which aspects of masculinity can be harnessed to produce positive outcomes for male mental health. Analysing various gendered health care projects/ policies have led us to consider which steps should be taken to resolve this male mental health crisis. Looking forward this has led us to question whether these gendered approaches actually have positive impacts as long-term solutions, or whether they contribute to reinforcing the restricted conception of maleness which has had negative outcomes thus far. Further, it has raised questions of the plausibility, practicalities and the usefulness of gender-neutral approaches to mental health, questions that require more research and require further debate to consider both the short term and long term implications of policies, in order to deal with this crisis.

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