For Men Only
It is known that men typically engage in fewer health-promoting behaviors, have fewer social supports, possess less effective behavioral responses to stress, and use fewer health care services than women. According to a 2010 study by the Center for Disease Control, men are four times more likely to commit suicide. Men with depression are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs than seek professional help for depressive symptoms. They are also more likely to allow anger to be expressed freely without acknowledging other’s feelings and are not likely to seek help in managing anger. Young men often engage in risky behaviors which often lead to more risky behavior over time.
Untreated mental health problems tend to get worse over time and can lead to serious consequences including addiction, incarceration, destroyed relationships and damage to physical health. Fortunately, with the right treatment most mental health problems are resolved within a relatively short period of time and result in an increased ability to cope with future challenges, improved relationships and improved contentment in life.
Beginning the therapy process is a sign of strength and takes courage. As E.E. Cummings penned, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” In recent years, I have had the experience of seeing many more men access mental health services. My heart is touched by these men, who recognize their need for help and allow themselves to take a risk to open up emotionally and be vulnerable in ways that they may never have been before. These men have accessed services for a variety of reasons including divorce or a separation, relationship problems, illness or injury, or for help with addiction, anger, trauma or anxiety and depression. Additionally, fathers have sought help with understanding their children as they develop or to adapt to the challenging task of parenting. I have also had the experience of seeing young men challenge traditional gender roles and try out new behaviors that would have been shamed or made fun of many years ago. As a result, old, rigid gender roles thankfully are changing. Our new society demands equality between the sexes in the workplace, in relationships and in child rearing.
While I have observed these refreshing changes in men, it is still true that many men hold on to old, rigid and restrictive stereotypes. These stereotypes have a negative impact on men’s mental and physical health and can be very destructive in family relationships. Men often believe that they must handle problems by themselves and fear that they may seem weak or that others will find out that they are struggling. Boys often socialized from a very early age by their parents, peers, and teachers to “toughen up” and not cry. These norms are further shaped and reinforced by the work force, where emotions are not recognized or denied and men are expected to fulfill a variety of roles that may endanger their emotional well-being.
Some men become so enthralled in the pursuit of a“masculinity ideal” they feel compelled to prove their power, strength and vitality. These men continually practice norms in the pursuit of wealth, dominance, success, power, status and superiority. On the other end of this spectrum are the men who do not have the access to the resources needed to prove this "idealized masculinity". Sometimes, these men turn to anti-social behaviors in pursuit of this. This can lead to a form of “Toxic Masculinity” which results in macho behavior, promiscuity, workaholism, authoritarianism and even violence. Toxic Masculinity ultimately results in a loss of internal strength, confidence and stability and leads to interpersonal and emotional problems, and can even lead to legal problems.
Men sometimes believe that the best way to handle emotions is to avoid them or bottle them up. When a man experiences a crisis, whether it be a loss, a divorce, or another difficulty in life, he may not have the ability to process through the intense emotions that go along with these life experiences. As a man, you deserve to be happy and have satisfying, healthy relationships. Seeking help for yourself is a sign of great strength. It is much easier to deny and avoid facing your problems than it is to take an active step towards improving yourself and your mental health. Reach out and find a therapist that fits your needs and circumstances. Most therapists will provide a free consultation to see if they are a good fit for you. Reach out to me, if I seem right for you! In the meantime, take care of your physical health and don’t compare yourself to others. Remember that everyone copes differently and your coping is not a reflection on your worth as a man. Allow family and friends to support you and ask for that support. Some family members or friends may not be able to be there for you, but some will. Try not to take this personally. Seek out people who can support you!
Resources for Men
Headsupguys – A self-check to help men determine if they are experiencing symptoms of depression https://headsupguys.org/mens-depression/self-check/
Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) - A self-check tool to screen for unhealthy alcohol use, defined as risky or hazardous consumption or any alcohol use disorder
Anxiety Screening Tool - https://psychologytoday.tests.psychtests.com/bin/transfer
ManTherapy - A public office campaign that offers information about mental health to reduce the stigma https://www.mantherapy.org/