27 Messages to Any Man Who Thinks They Have to Be 'OK' All the Time


“We men always feel like it’s a sign of weakness to speak about our feelings, our struggles, even our dreams… it’s OK to talk about it, sometimes you need someone to listen.”

Like Mighty community member Dartel, quoted above, many men are taught their feelings are a sign of weakness, or their struggles make them less of a man. This “code of silence” — this pressure to hold things in — is not only unfair, it can be dangerous. Sixteen percent of men worldwide struggle with some type of mental illness, which doesn’t account for mental health struggles men face that go unreported. Around the world, we lose one man to suicide every minute of every day.

Too many men are struggling. Too many men don’t talk about it or ask for help.

Something has to change.

That is why in support of Movember, we launched the #ItsOKMan initiative — to let anyone who identifies as a man know we see them. We wanted to give men a place to talk about how they’re doing, get support from others who’ve been there and remind everyone — no matter their gender — that it’s OK not to be OK.

As part of the #ItsOKMan initiative, we asked our community to share photos of things they wanted men who are struggling to know. Here are some of the photos they shared with us — from both our online campaign, and from our New York City #ItsOKMan pop-up event in Washington Square Park.

Whatever you’re going through, it’s OK man. Here’s what people want you to know.

1. “The more we realize how much we have in common, the easier it is to start a conversation and get us the tools and help we need.” — Rayah

2. “Confront toxic masculinity.”

confront toxi masculinity #Itsokman

3. “Oftentimes we as men make others’ opinions or expectations of us have an effect on who we are or who we want to be. But this can all get draining and will eventually catch up you; physically, mentally, and emotionally. We must take the time to reflect and figure this out on our own. We must be strong enough to face the internal and external struggles that we encounter, and not be afraid to ask for help along the way. That’s the real definition of being a man. This year has been one of the hardest for me, but it has also been the best. Sometimes we need the hard times to appreciate the good times, and although it may seem like it’ll never end, you have to stay strong and keep going. #ItsOKMan” — Stephan G. (See the full post here.)

don't let labels define you #itsokman

4. “You don’t have to ‘man up.'”

you don't have to man up #itokman

5. “As a mom of two young boys, I want them to know that #ItsOkMan. Having feelings, crying, needing help – #ItsOkMan. I want them to grow up to value kindness as much as strength and understanding as much as success. And above all, I want them to know how much they are loved, no matter what. So boys, whatever you are into, whatever you grow up to be, #ItsOKMan” — Leigh W.

mother and son sharing messages of support

6. “Start addressing PTSD now. Don’t wait.”

Start addressing PTSD now. Don't Wait. #itsokman

7. “We men always feel like it’s a sign of weakness to speak about our feelings, our struggles, even our dreams… it’s OK to talk about it, sometimes you need someone to listen.” — Dartel M.

8.#ItsOKMan to be who you really are. I am a pretty intelligent man. While that has it’s perks, it can provide a unique kind of pressure that makes it hard to be who I really am. It is true that I know quite a bit, and in general I freely share what I know, because I genuinely enjoy helping other people out. Alas, I do not know everything, and sometimes it feels like the people around me expect me to know everything, even if that is not their intent. Thus I find myself pretending.” — Chris W. (See the full post here.)

If you want to be the real you today, itsokman

9. “Nobody needs to be alone.”

Nobody needs to be alone. #ItsOKman

10. “You’re allowed to have a bad day and struggle, we all have those days, but look at what you have and where you have been… huge amounts of love to those who are taking their first steps in talking about how they feel.” — Ant A.

View this post on Instagram

ITS OK TO NOT BE OK☝️ . A movement from @themightysite I want to continue. Mental health is such a big part of your life….it astounds me that we dont talk more about what's up in our heads . I'm trying to encourage more men/women, with a chronic illness or without, to talk about what they are feeling. ???? . You're allowed to have a bad day and struggle, we all have those days, but look at what you have and where you have been. You'll be ok ???????? . #itsokman . Start talking. Chat to the person next to you. If you were bleeding from a wound, youd ask for help….so why is this any different . Huge amounts of love to those who are taking their first steps in talking about how they feel ????????????

A post shared by Ant Andrews (@ibdfitness) on

11. “Showing your emotion doesn’t invalidate your ‘manhood.'”

Showing emotion doesn't invalidate your "manhood" #itsokman

12. “I shared something I wrote with my dad the other day about how our relationship has changed throughout my struggles with depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts. It’s been hard, but I do believe we’ve become stronger. Here’s a little line from his response: ‘The hardest part for a man of watching someone you love struggle with depression or anxiety or suicidal thoughts or an eating disorder is the complete helplessness you feel. Men do not like feeling helpless. We like to fix things that are broken.'” — Haley Q. (See the full post here.)

daughter and father sharing messages of support

13. “Men can be abused, too.”

Men can be abused too. #itsokman

14.“Let’s replace ‘Man Up’ with ‘Want to talk about it?’… Feelings are for everybody.” — @sugarandsloth

15. “Cry more!”

Cry more. #ItsOKMan

16. “It’s OK to be vulnerable in your relationships. Admitting you’re at fault and owning your mistakes is the first step to working on them. Admitting everything is not OK does not make you less of a partner.” — Adam and Sarah

17. “You don’t have to be “masc” to be a real man.”

you don't have to be "masc" to be a real man #itsokman

18. “As I know most of us grew up having the statement ‘tough it out,’ but from my experience, that can be more hurtful to yourself than any sort of benefit. Be proud of who you are and stand tall to your emotions and find your true inner strength and again it’s OK to feel those feelings and have those thoughts!” — Cameron

View this post on Instagram

I love the movement of November , for men’s mental health, letting men out there know that it’s ok to reach out , it’s ok to ask for help, that we are not weak for doing so but unbelievable strong! As I know most of us grew up having the statement tough it out but from my experience that can be more hurtful to yourself than any sort of benefit! Be proud of who you are, and stand tall to your emotions and find your true inner strength and again it’s ok to feel those feelings and to have those thoughts! The love and support out there is a blessing and remember you are never alone! I have to remind my self that everyday ! #itsokman #mentalhealth #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawarenessmonth #mentalidade #stopthestigma #suicideprevention #suicideawareness #suicide #strength #love #model #life #menshealth #startsnow #change #acceptance #now #love #faith #beheretomorrow #mental #sharesomelove #bethechange #beard #malemodel #model #stopthestigma #holdon #itsokaynottobeokay #depression #iamchange ##ridethroughdepression #compassion #bethechange

A post shared by Cameron (@runloveride) on

19. “Be honest, and open to connection, but don’t shy away from standing your ground for what you believe in.”

be honest and open to connection, but don't shy away from standing your ground for what you believe in.

20. “It gets better and #ItsOKMan. Writing the above line helped me gain a new perspective into my life. My life is not a struggle but I have had phases where things looked bad. There were days filled with carefree joys, there were days where I would go to bed with one meal knowing sure the next day would be a struggle. Days where I would feel blessed to breathe this moment to days where I would be apathetic. From euphoria to despair. If there is one thing I can say, its that, it gets better and #ItsOKMan.” — Sandeep C. (See the full post here.)

It gets better #itsokman

21. “Life can be tough, but you can find the strength and courage through it.”

Life can be tough, but you can find the strength and courage through it.

22. “We want you to know, no matter what you face today, you are man enough. You don’t need to ‘man up’ to be strong enough or powerful enough for the challenges you face.” — Rayah

23. “Be vulnerable! Why? It will help you reach out to someone, and to express your inner feelings. Someone will listen. Someone will care.”

Be vulnerable! Why? It will help you reach out to someone, and to express your inner feelings. Someone will listen. Someone will care. #ItsOKMan

24. “Too often we men are called ‘weak’ if we show emotions but this has to end. This doesn’t mean you have to start crying to Bridget Jones diary.
No it means that when life is really kicking you in the face you can turn to your bros for support instead of a ‘man up.’ This starts from telling your mates you got their back if they need a chat.” — Ben C.

View this post on Instagram

So my friends over @themightysite are running a campaign trying to fight the stigma around men sharing their feelings. . This is something I truly believe in and campaign for. I try to share all my emotions with the people I care about and here on Instagram too. Yes that makes me vulnerable, but only temporary as having control over it allows me to be stronger in the long term. . Too often we men are called 'gay', 'weak' or 'a pussy' if we show emotions but this has to end. This doesn't mean you have to start crying to Bridget Jones diary. . No it means that when life is really kicking you in the face you can turn to your bros for support instead of a 'man up'. This starts from telling your mates you got their back if they need a chat . Please help spread the message by tagging someone below to let them know you got them ✌️ . Your friendly neighborhood quadriplegic Ben ???? . . . . . #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #menshealth #itsokman . Photo by @tombroydphotography

A post shared by Ben Clark (@adapttoperform) on

25. “Being gentle does not make you weak.”

Being gentle does not make you weak. #ItsOKMan

26. “We are feely humans. Our vulnerability is not something to shove down; it is something to celebrate and to share freely.” — Non W.

View this post on Instagram

Nōn Wels from @youmeempathy is taking over @themightysite today in support of #ItsOKMan and #Movember! He’ll be talking about eating disorder recovery, vulnerability and what it means to “be a man.” ••• For anyone who feels the pressure to “be a man,” this reminder from Nōn is for you: “We are feely humans. Our vulnerability is not something to shove down; it is something to celebrate and to share freely.” ••• Let other men know it’s OK to not be OK. Tag us in your #ItsOKMan photos. Need a space to talk about the things you’re going through? Check out the link in our bio. ••• Ask Nōn your questions today in the comments below! ••• #menshealth #mensmentalhealth #mentalhealth #mentalhealthwarrior #chronicillness #edrecovery #recoverywarrior #mentalillness #manofmorewords #themightysite

A post shared by The Mighty (@themightysite) on

27. “When things are smooth, it is easy to forget others. Self-serving bias leads us to attribute the good mostly to our efforts But it is during the good times that we need the reminder, that what we do is only a sliver of the outcome. So much of what happens in life is beyond our control. It is both humbling and a relief to know that.” — Peter W. (See the full post here.)

If you or a loved one are struggling, help is out there. If you need support right now, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line if you are in the U.S. A list of crisis centers around the world can be found here as well.

We hope this conversation continues, because it’s so important. The #ItsOKMan page on The Mighty is for any man to talk about what they’re going through, and to give and get support from people who’ve been there.

To see all of the #ItsOKMan photos, head here.

itsokman photo grid


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