We’ve all heard the refrains “be a man” and “man up” many times. These potentially harmful terms stem from a long history of toxic masculinity. Given the current status of mental health, men are even more unlikely to seek aid when it comes to doing something about their mental health issues.
Enter Mantor, an online well-being platform for men founded by Vaibhav Toshniwal.
“Men need help,” says Toshniwal, who explains that the male population is grossly underserved in the mental wellness sphere. “Through research, we’ve found that men talk about things like politics, sports and business – but rarely about how they feel. They need to stop thinking about feelings and start feeling feelings.”
Seeing as how it is perceived as unseemly for men – especially those from traditional, patriarchal Asian societies – to express themselves or display their emotions, it comes as scant surprise.
Toshniwal was himself a victim. He suffered depression and loneliness at 26 and didn’t know where or whom to turn to. “I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. That’s when I realised there were limited resources available for men in terms of mental wellness. I suffered because of that,” he says.
Now 32, he’s come a long way in his journey of personal growth and wants to help other men escape the stigma of talking about mental wellness through Mantor. The platform features several parts, including a community space in which members can share, support or vent in a safe, moderated space. This is where Mantor’s online format shines because men seem far more comfortable talking about otherwise taboo topics like sexuality, addiction to pornography or divorce behind a username or a computer screen. “Of course, one could go to sites such as Reddit, but they’re usually full of trolls,” adds Toshniwal.
Mantor works with over 50 mental wellness specialists and experts to provide professionally facilitated services for individuals and enterprises. These include paid programmes with a structured approach to getting back on one’s feet post-separation or methods to channel male archetypes and energies. For those needing something more private, coaches offer one-on-one sessions as well.
To date, Mantor has hosted over 30 events and engaged with over 10,000 men, including working professionals and executives. “As many are in prominent positions, they find it even more difficult to express themselves, especially with so much attention on them. We always hear people talking about things like how they feel guilty about not being a good father because they’re busy with their job or the pressures of being the primary breadwinner of the family,” shares Toshniwal.
He recognises that this area of men’s emotional well-being has to be carefully navigated and is clear about Mantor not being a space for anything medical. For those dealing with severe issues, Toshniwal recommends going through proper support channels. “We don’t want to misdirect anyone,” he says. What’s more, Mantor may be male-focused, but it’s not exclusive – women can also join its community. “Men need to understand the roles women play, too. We want to help each other break gender-specific taboos.”