We often overlook the mental health struggles in men. As with many cultures, males are expected to embody the “macho” persona and typical egalitarian gender roles. To even speak of anything around sorrow or anxiety is absolutely prohibited especially in the Asian cultures. According to Thank God I’m Filipino: The roots of the “macho” lie both in Spanish colonial and traditional familial hierarchal structures. “Some male Filipinos are proud and arrogant that they will not accept losing face, particularly in the crowd. They don’t like the idea of being defeated or embarrassed. In some cases, losing face or being humiliated is the cause of street brawls, drinking bouts or even killings in the country.” [Source: Filipino Men]
Macho – to be the strong and dominative male figure in society.Filipino Men
This toxic social construct discourages Asian males from freely communicate their everyday struggles and even deeper mental anguishes. Men often dismiss, numb or distract themselves from understanding difficult emotions because there was never a safe space to address them.
Alexis’ living experience
I’ve known Alexis “Al” Madayag for over 20 years. He is my husband’s childhood friend. One of the things I appreciate about Alexis’ his openess about his mental health struggles. He has used his struggles to bring awareness to the mental health crisis in the Filipino community. Alexis uses his professional skills as an educator to his advantage as he volunteers with Filipino Mental Health Initiative – San Mateo County as an Advisory member, speaks all around the San Francisco peninsula, and is a community advocate for Seeing Through the Stigma campaign by Heart & Soul, Inc. He is trailblazing transparent conversations around his struggles in hopes to encourage other AANHPI communities members to do the same.
I asked Alexis if we could record a conversation about his living experience with anxiety and depression. We talked to over two hours about mental health diagnoses, medication, alternative therapies, and mourning the deaths of our fathers. Below is a snippet of our conversation.
If you would like to hear more from Alexis, comment below. Believe me, you won’t want to miss the rest of our conversation.