Monday 16 September 2019

'Men showing emotion isn't a sign of weakness' - charity says Keane's 'crying' comments 'help to reinforce dangerous stereotypes'

Roy Keane pictured during his time as Ireland assistant manager. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Roy Keane pictured during his time as Ireland assistant manager. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

A mental health charity has accused Roy Keane of reinforcing dangerous stereotypes by indicating that men showing emotions is a sign of weakness.

Irish charity, Shine, said that the Cork man’s comments about former striker Jon Walter “crying” on television could lead to men being less inclined to seek support. 

Keane this week hit out at Walters in a very personal way for becoming emotional when talking about the several tragedies that befell his family earlier this year. 

"He talks a good game," he said at the Cadbury's 'Off The Ball' roadshow in Dublin.

"Imagine if he’d won a trophy. He goes on the TV about how he was harshly treated by me. 

"He’s crying on the TV about his family situation. Maybe he should lie low for a while. Have a look at his medals? That wouldn’t take long.” 

In May, Walters opened up about the tragic "triple-whammy" that hit his family last year in a highly emotional interview on ‘The Late Late Show’. 

The 35-year-old’s mother, Helen, passed away from bowel cancer when the footballer was aged 11 and he has always dedicated his Ireland career in her honour. 

The player’s family suffered another loss last year when his older brother James passed away, and a day later his wife lost a baby. Soon after, he learned the devastating news that his daughter had scoliosis. 

John Saunders, CEO of Shine, told Independent.ie that Keane’s comments could have a knock-on effect on those experiencing mental health issues.

“It is deeply worrying that someone, like Keane, who is a role model to so many young men, is reinforcing dangerous stereotypes by indicating that men showing emotion and crying is a sign of weakness,” he said. 

“This can have a knock-on effect, resulting in young men concealing their mental health difficulties, feeling shame, humiliation and avoiding seeking help. 

"Stigma is a significant problem for people who experience mental health difficulties and is recognised as a barrier to the recovery process as it prevents people from seeking help. 

“Mental health stigma manifests itself in stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination,” he said. 

Online mental health charity, Turn2Me, also stressed that it’s important to stop reinforcing negative stereotypes that men are robotic and void of emotions. 

"The saying that ‘boys don’t cry’ which is often instilled in children and is carried forward into adulthood, has such a negative impact on the mental health and well-being on men," said Clinical Manager of Turn2Me, Brian Holohan. 

"It reinforces this stereotype that crying or showing any emotion other than anger is not acceptable. 

"Worldwide research has shown how this type to suppression of male emotions can lead to stigmatizing mental health, which results in men being less inclined to seek support,” he said. 

When asked for its reaction to Keane's comments, the Irish Hospice Foundation told Independent.ie that it's important for people to talk about their grief when going through a personal loss.

"Bereavement and grief can have substantial impacts which can manifest in different ways, at different times and with different degrees of severity," said charity CEO Sharon Foley.

"It's important for some people to talk about their grief and we can all learn from that.

"The Irish Hospice Foundation's mission is to ensure people in Ireland understand grief and that we, as a society, treat people experiencing loss with compassion and give them the support they need."

After Keane's comments about the football star went viral, Walters posted a selfie of himself in the gym on Twitter standing in front of a punching bag with a photo-edited cross over it under the caption "insert face here".

This prompted many of his followers to add images of the Corkman's face to the bag.

Others hit out at Keane for making the "highly inappropriate" comments.

During the 'Off The Ball' roadshow, Keane spoke about his departure from Ireland by hitting back at Walters, Harry Arter and Stephen Ward for their part in the fraught period that preceded his exit.

The assistant rowed with Arter and Walters over the amount of training they were doing leading up to a summer international window.

Ward recorded a WhatsApp audio message, describing the argument, that went public several months later and brought matters to a head.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this interview, please contact: Shine - www.shine.ie; Turn2Me – www.turn2me.org; or The Irish Hospice Foundation – www.bereaved.ie.

Irish Independent

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