Can therapy save the family unit

I overheard a conversation about most men refusing therapy and their lack of or poor expression of their emotions at the office and it was eye-opening.

The men were accused for having toxic masculinity for refusing to go for therapy because they felt it is feminine. And yet they have the highest number of suicide rates, leave to a trail of broken marriages and failed homes as a result of being unable to handle reality or find someone to talk to.

During the conversation, one of the respondents, male, said that high levels of depression and anxiety being witnessed amongst men is as a result of breakdown in the social construct. He argued that urbanization is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because we are wealthier and more empowered as a capitalist nation but also a curse because it has led to the disintegration of the basic family units.

It is hard to find extended families living together in the urban centers even if they hail from the vicinity city. The need to look for work and greener pastures has seen most men migrate to city estates to live lonely nucleus lifestyles with no psychosocial support.

Their relations, even if living in the city, are not always within proximity. The men therefore lack emotional support from family and friends as they are separated by distance. In the olden days when people lived in extended families, it was easier for one to find a listening ear to talk to or an observant eye to quickly identify a problem and offer advice or a helping hand.

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Tough economic times

Another cause for the current situation is the breakdown in the family unit itself. The tough economic times is making young people change their attitudes towards marriage finding the venture expensive and unaffordable.

Coupled by the robust technological advancement that have brought Wester cultural evolution onto young impressionable minds since infancy, has led to many single-parented families and dysfunctional nuclear families. 

These families have taken part in the production of dysfunctional men due to lack of father-figures while growing, in the cases of single moms. Or, exposure to wrong often violent father-figures that lead to toxic masculinity as an adult. For example, a man who grew-up with an abusive father may do the same to his life partner.   

While therapy is often touted as the silver bullet, it fails to take into account the fact that Kenya has too many people living below the poverty line who can barely afford a meal, let alone therapy.

It is often family, the collections of strangers across all ages from a toddler to an old grandmother, a weird uncle, and a strict aunt that we can find the broad spectrum of perspectives that can help us navigate life without judgement.

We should be able to rebuild these meaningful relations to help us deal with the high levels of anxiety, depression and suicide cases afflicting men, and this can be done by refocusing on the family unit.  

I also see no point in men going for therapy if they are coming back to the same toxic environments that got them there in the first place. The problem is so widespread there is need to address it at the society level than just fixing one individual.

It would take a national therapy sessions and total societal reconstruction if we are to make our world a better place. We might need to reconstruct our societal views on gender roles and traits and rethink the family cognizant of changing realities but retaining ties that are integral for our survival.

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