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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Rea

Therapy Isn’t for Men!

This is something men are often told or feel due to the stigma surrounding receiving mental health support. As boys, we are often raised to mask or suppress our feelings and emotions. Things such as “boys don’t cry,” “there’s no crying in baseball,” “suck it up buttercup,” “what are you? Some kind of sissy?” come to mind when thinking of things I was told by adults and peers when I was a young boy. Several men I know have reiterated being told these and worse things when they were young. 

So why does any of this matter? It matters because it shapes the long-term way that men view themselves, their emotions, and in many ways, what ways they are allowed to or the things they should do to cope with their upsetting thoughts or emotions. If we as men are not supposed to have emotions like being sad, depressed, or anxious, what does that mean when we do have those emotions? Are we a failure? Are we not a man? What if someone finds out? Will they think less of us? Am I weak and less desirable? Men are often not seeking mental health services due to having to openly face these senses of shame and embarrassment. Suicide rates among men are four times higher than that of women (CDC) although women attempt suicide twice as often as men.

What can be done? As usual, it’s easier to ask the question than it is to provide the answer.

  1. Support and encourage the men in our lives to seek mental health services if needed. We should  present it as a valid option and assist in locating resources. 

  2. Work on reducing stigma with young boys. Begin discussing emotions and mental health at an early age.

  3. Encourage the men in our lives to talk about their emotions. Be prepared to be met with some resistance here. They may joke or make light of the request because it makes them uncomfortable or they are not honestly sure how to respond.

  4. Encourage healthy forms of self-care, such as activities they find enjoyment and meaning in.

  5. Encourage and support healthy social relationships with others. Have conversations about mental health.

This post is not intended to imply that men are the only group of people struggling with mental health. There are many different groups and demographics with significant mental health needs. I felt it is important to discuss men because in many ways, they are an often underserved and overlooked population that I enjoy working with in my practice and hope to help as many as I can. Mental health stigma in general needs to be addressed and eradicated. I hope to do my part by addressing this issue with men and any other client groups that I am privileged to work with in my practice. 

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