It's mental health awareness month and Anoushey Ashraf has decided to touch upon a topic that is overlooked by most people — men's mental health.
The RJ and actor collected some "horrific stories" of men who faced abuse as children and adults, and decided to post as many as she could fit in a multi-share Instagram post. Issuing a trigger warning for mention of abuse and rape, the actor highlighted how the matter is usually swept under the rug and how parents need to educate their children on their bodies and respecting others' bodies.
"I usually talk about women’s issues but this May I finally decided to also highlight #mensmentalhealth which is key to a stable society. Young boys are often bullied and abused in schools, at home or by madrasahs which is why I insist there is NO need for clergy in religion.
"These posts have been shared by some very brave men. Ones I’d like to appreciate by letting them know how much respect they have in my eyes. Despite their abuse and trauma, they’re choosing to be better people. They’re actively working on themselves to be okay," the actor captioned the post.
Ashraf said men reaching out for help shouldn’t only be accepted but encouraged. She said the purpose of sharing these stories was "to shed light on what goes on with the vulnerable throughout the world". She also wanted the reader to understand that just because they didn't personally go through it, doesn’t give them the right to dismiss someone else's experience by saying it’s in their head. She asked people to stop victim shaming, be supportive and listen instead.
She addressed parents so the issue can be targeted at the root, stressing the importance of teaching children the necessity of respecting their own bodies as well as those of other people. "Also, teach your sons and daughters the rights they have over their own bodies and the lack of rights they have over others' bodies. Start young. It’s an awful world and even though we like shoving all matters as such under the carpet, the carpet is wearing out with all that filth beneath. Clean it up. Our children will shape this nations future, they cannot start their lives on such a footing while parents turn the other way."
Ashraf said this was just a fraction of the stories that have accumulated in her inbox. She asked her followers to share them on their story so more people can access them. She added the hashtags #mensmentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness.
It is commendable to see someone shed light on an issue that's not talked about enough. Men's mental health matters too and ignoring it only adds to the toxic, patriarchal stereotype that demands they be unfeeling and 'tough'. What's really tough is being open about what's going on in your head and facing it with help and care.