I have often wondered why many men are resistant to seeking help for their mental health. I had a younger client whose father was not supportive of his son receiving therapy for his problems related to anger in his life.
This young man discontinued his weekly therapy sessions because he did not want his father to disapprove. I wonder how this young man is now coping with his anger. When I was having marriage problems with my first marriage, I wanted to seek out marriage counseling. The
response I received from my husband at the time was "we can fix this ourselves." Well, that did not turn out very well.
According to Dr. Deryl Goldenberg, there has been a resistance with men seeking help with their mental health problems. Men also struggle to talk about their personal lives and possible issues with their intimate relationships. Many times when a man's romantic or sexual relationship is in jeopardy, this will get their attention with the fear loss of the relationship. This will often be a factor that leads them to therapy. The men who seek out therapy may become more aware of themselves and how the relationship took a downward turn. They may begin to understand the missing emotional pieces in themselves and in the marriage. With this understanding, they will receive guidance and direction on how to address the problems in the relationship.
According to the American Psychological Association, "dozens of studies and surveys over the past several decades have shown that men of all ages and ethnicities are less likely than women to seek help for all sorts of problems-including depression, substance abuse and stressful life events-even though they encounter those problems at the same or greater rates as women."
Throughout the years, there have been negative stereotypes about people and their mental health. It had been believed that therapy was for the severely mentally ill, drug addicts, severely anxious and depressed population. Nearly one in five Americans suffer from mental illness. Most people struggle with emotional distress at different points in their life.
The question that persists; Why are men unwilling to admit and advocate for their emotional and
psychological problems? Could it be that men are socialized or conditioned to believe they should not ask for help and can always solve their own problems that are present in their lives? Could it be difficult to admit to having personality flaws in order to not show emotional "weakness" to maintain the façade of strength?
Having a mental health diagnosis should not affect how a man sees himself. It should not define who they are as a person. We continue to have a population of men who believe mental illness is a weakness. Mental illness does not take away their masculinity. Mental illness will not affect their gender traits or human character. It will not define you as a coward or being weak. Men who struggle with mental illness should reach out for help and take responsibility for their well-being.
Dan Siegel, psychiatrist and author of Mindsight, describes therapy in the following way:
[Therapy is] a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own
minds. It helps us to be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get ourselves off the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.
Want to learn more?
Crow Wing Energized's ACE's and Resiliency Coalition is hosting a workshop on the topic.
What is a Real Man? Raising Boys to be Good Men
In an interactive format, this workshop will explore the process of male socialization - how boys learn about masculinity and the impacts their mental models of manhood have on their lives. Both the challenges and strengths of masculine messages will be explored, and ideas offered about how to raise boys to be good men.
When: 10 a.m.-noon May 23.
Where: First Lutheran Church, 424 S. Eighth St., Brainerd