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Mental Health Support for Men
After decades of hush hush, it feels like the wheels are finally spinning, and spinning fast.
As a society, we’ve made dramatic progress in terms of opening up the conversation around mental health, normalizing therapy, and systematically changing the way we approach mental health education, treatment, and accessibility.
The Silent Crisis
In the United States, men are dying by sucide at almost 4x the rate of women accounting for over 75% of all suicides. That’s around 100 men dying by suicide every single day and that’s just in America. Men are also experiencing Substance Use Disorder at much higher rates than women with men nearly doubling women in use of illicit drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines.
This continued rise in men’s mental health concerns, coupled with the lack of conversation around men’s mental health, is being referred to as the “Silent Crisis,” referencing, in part, that men are statistically less likely to seek help for depression, substance use, and other stressful life events.
While there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all explanation for this, there are some important factors to consider.
Traditionally, male gender roles and societal norms have discouraged emotional expression.
From a young age, boys are bombarded with the narrative that showing feelings and emotions is a sign of weakness. They are told to “man up” and “toughen up,” expected never to cry in front of anyone, and are even at times made fun of for showing outward affection to their partners.
On top of that, there’s almost this sort of cliche conversation around men having to hide their feelings. What I mean is that the amount of time spent talking about the fact that men hide their feelings is plentiful, but the amount of time spent talking about men’s actual feelings… not so much.
This plays a part in men experiencing and displaying symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression, differently than what’s “typically” expected. For example, men are more likely to report fatigue, irritability, anger, and loss of interest in work or hobbies rather than feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
Synergy eTherapy John Fisher shares that in his personal experience working with men, “men and women often come to therapy for very similar reasons. However, the difference is that they will display their distress in different ways. In general, it is much more common for men to retreat inward and close off from their support or to display depression and anxiety in the form of anger or resentment.”
Social context matters.
When talking about men’s mental health, the conversation is often centered around the concept of toxic masculinity and society’s traditional expectations of gender roles. And while these are important conversations, it’s also important to remember that life experiences matter. Adversities matter. Social context matters.
By singularly focusing on the impact of gender roles and social norms, it can diminish the individual experiences a person has.
Dr. Rob Whitley describes how it can also shift blame and shame onto the male himself “by suggesting that men’s mental health woes are due to alleged male deficits.” He goes further to provide a renewed approach to understanding men’s mental health (and male suicide) by looking at the impact of social factors such as divorce, unemployment, sexual identity and other life experiences. “Every man has his own story to tell,” he states. “Listen and learn.”
Therapy for Men
Talking to a therapist can be a great way for men to acknowledge, accept, and learn to cope with mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, stress, and more. Our therapist, John Fischer, “work(s) with men to become accepting of their emotions, comfortable talking about their emotions, and to find ways to communicate with their support network that work(s) for them. For some clients that have never really had a positive male presence in their life, developing a meaningful, professional relationship with a male can be very therapeutic and a healing factor for them.”
With so much heartache, difficulty, and uncertainty the past couple years, having the space to process and reflect can truly make the world of a difference. 24-year-old Gabe Herstig shares his experience getting involved in therapy after struggling with anxiety and depression during the start of the pandemic.
“My mental health journey started when Covid hit. I was unhappy and miserable all the time (something that’s not like me – I’m generally very happy and outgoing) and eventually went to the doctor after having an emotional breakdown.
I started talking to a therapist weekly (and still do), and it really helped me unpack a lot of the negative thoughts I had been having. I still struggle sometimes but therapy has taught me coping tactics. Now I’m able to speak my feelings productively and freely and it makes life so much easier. I’ve realized that it’s okay to not be okay! Society expects men to keep it all in and that’s just not realistic. It’s okay to talk about your feelings. It’s actually a good thing!”
Get connected with one of our Licensed Therapists today by scheduling you FREE, no-commitment consultation. Our therapists have years of clinical experience working with patients suffering from depression, anxiety, stress, grief, trauma and more.
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As an online mental health counseling practice, our mission is to offer a variety of online therapy services to help you focus on your wellbeing. We take the stress out of getting the treatment you deserve. Synergy eTherapists provide flexible, convenient, and easy to use mental health services.
We offer online therapy in several states including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kansas, California, Florida, Colorado, and many other states. We add new states to this list regularly.
Our therapists help teens, college students, adults, couples, and people with health conditions and chronic pain during online therapy. Additionally, we can offer psychiatric medication management in certain states.