On this site, in the Solid Blog and on Wellness Wednesdays on The Spin, we discuss ongoing strategies, ideas and plans for sustaining ongoing foundation for mental health and wellness.
If you or anyone is struggling or in crisis right now, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. Alternatively, crisis resources can be found here.
Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.– Fred Rogers
During my psychotherapy training, I remember a distinct moment learning that 1 in 4 men are affected by a mental health issue in Canada.
And that approximately 11% of men will experience severe depression during their lifetime, while 9% of men are affected by anxiety.
Yet, men are less likely to seek help and support, and that male suicides have been on the rise and is one of the leading causes of death among males.
Numbers are even higher across the board among gay, bisexual and trans men.
Ever since learning these stats, it’s been my goal to be able to work with men in my practice and to do what I can to specifically help bring awareness to the importance of men’s mental health.
Changing the Script and Challenging Stereotypes
Emotions and mental health issues can unfortunately often be linked to the idea of being weak or lacking control.
As human beings, we are meant to have emotions, and difficult or challenging emotions are our system’s way of alerting us to something requiring our attention.
For instance, high levels of stress might often go unresolved for long periods of time due to denial or fear that acknowledging that there’s struggle means being weak somehow.
Not dealing with these struggles might result in a lack of sleep, losing or gaining appetite, aggression, increased substance use and so forth.
These are real and genuine health concerns, and I hope that we can keep having these discussions to help flip the script that whether it’s mental health or any other health-related concern, everyone deserves and should get help and support.
Solid Foundation in Overall Health Can Help
According to the Men’s Health Foundation of Canada, inactive men are 60% more likely to suffer from depression from those who are active.
I am a big advocate of building a solid foundation for overall health, which includes being active, taking care of nutrition and getting quality rest.
And something I don’t think we talk about enough which is: Maintaining good connections and relationships.
Ensuring that we have good, solid relationships makes it easier to be able to talk or ask for help.
But seeking mental health support is not only healthy, I believe it takes courage and strength.
Support and Asking for Help
It helps that there are more and more men openly talking about mental health.
I love the initiatives like the one Scooter Gennett of the Cincinatti Red’s have started to openly discuss the importance of talking about mental health.
The more and more it becomes a norm that we talk about caring for our mental health and the more it ultimately also becomes a strength.
Because not feeling down, worried, stressed, anxious and so forth, the more productive, successful and available we are for the important people and things in our lives.
Men tend to socialize focused around things like sports or music, which is a valuable form of social connection, sense of belonging and stress release.
However, it’s also good to have the opportunity to directly address specific issues.
In relation to women, men can sometimes get frustrated when women are looking to talk out what’s on their minds.
But talking things out, without necessarily looking for a concrete solution, can often be a source of stress relief.
Further having a professionally trained psychologist, therapist, counsellor, or coach in a confidential environment can be an important resource for taking care of and managing mental health.
In the past, men had little choice but to either stay silent, get to a breaking point for someone else to notice or perhaps talk to a family doctor, who may or may not be well versed in mental health treatment approaches.
Thankfully, online access has made it easier than ever to find the right resources and support.
Take advantage of the search engines, but do resist the temptation of self-diagnosing yourself using Dr. Google!
Additional Resources to Get Started
“I Don’t Want to Talk About It” by therapist Terry Real is one of the resources that was most helpful for me during my training. “Hidden male depression is the focus of this clear, compelling book by a Massachusetts family psychotherapist who specializes in working with dysfunctional men. Because our culture socializes boys to mask feelings of vulnerability, he says, they bury deep within themselves damaging childhood trauma and its ensuing depressive effects when they become men.” (Description provided by Publisher’s Weekly.)
Heads Up Guys “is a resource for supporting men in their fight against depression by providing tips, tools, information about professional services, and stories of success.” (Description provided by the HeadUpGuys website.)
There are also a few provincially publicly funded resources that can be found at Connex Ontario.
Of course, our talk here is just scratching the surface. But hopefully, we’ll bring more awareness and support the more we keep continuing the discussion.