How Do Perceptions of Masculinity and Mental Health Collide?

In mental health by Tree House Recovery

Learning that their self-perception is formed, in part, by the perceptions which have been placed upon them by society, takes time for men. Masculinity has been shaped and defined by cultures, religions, media, and more for hundreds if not thousands of years. Evolutionarily, some of men’s “responsibilities” have continued to exist. However, in the modern world, the definition of a man has come to be something overly macho, which many people call “toxic masculinity”. The term is somewhat of a buzzword in recent years and a controversial one at that. Without any political or socially political connotation, the term toxic masculinity simply means that men have been given standards and expectations of who they are which is toxic in nature. If something is toxic, it simply means it isn’t healthy. Thus, by logic, men are growing up with unhealthy expectations of who they should be, how they should feel, and how they should act. We’ve seen an increasing amount of young men buckling under the pressures of socially constructed male-identity standards. Men are facing increasing numbers of depression, anxiety, illnesses, and substance use disorders. Though science hasn’t directly proven that any of this is due to toxic masculinity, research has found that mental health can be affected by ideals of masculinity.

The American Psychological Association has released new guidelines for working with men which cites over 40 years of research, explains Conclusively, the guidelines express that masculinity as it has been traditionally put into ideology, negatively impacts men’s mental health as it can result in bullying, phobia, sexual harassment, psychological abuse, and much more. The article cites some of the specific examples of harmful ideology, like achievement, risk, violence, and anti-femininity.

Though the term toxic masculinity is not used, the effects of the “traditional masculinity ideology” are clearly toxic. The guidelines cite that psychological development is halted as a result of these abnormal expectations. Realizing the depth of this truth is profound. Ideas- invisible, intangible thoughts- about masculinity can inhibit the brain development of young boys.

As sober men of recovery, we have a responsibility to define masculinity for ourselves and for the future generations of growing men.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.