For a person living with mental health problems, talking about it with anyone may seem scary, difficult, and intimidating.
For men in particular, accessing mental health resources may seem to go against cultural expectations which tell them to “man up” and “be strong” all their lives.
However, over the past several years, there’s been growing interest and activism around the subject of male mental health. This is partly owing to those in the media spotlight who’ve been vocal about their own experiences.
It’s so important to fight stigma and speak up. Here’s what celebrities, mental health experts, and men dealing with their own mental health issues want others to know.
1. Society tells men that it’s simply unacceptable to have too many emotions.
From an early age, men are taught to be tough, not to cry, and to ‘crack on. We train professional warriors and soldiers and expect them to be emotionally intelligent enough to open up when they need help. Worse, we expect that they will *never* need help. It is needed to bring vulnerability, as a core principle of emotional strength, into the framework of masculinity.
2. There are plenty of reasons men don’t seek out help, even if they need it.
It can be extremely difficult to admit your struggle as a man. Logically, one knows that has everyone has a problem from time to time, everyone gets down or finds it difficult to cope. However, it often feels like you are the only person who can’t seem to handle it. You lie awake at night alone, thinking why you can’t be as in control as you should be and desperately trying not to let anyone else see how you are really doing.
3. Sometimes, even when you know you need help, it can be difficult to know where to start.
I’ve experienced many men who do not want to ask for help because they’re afraid of looking stupid or weak. This is something men are working hard to change. They must know that their internal struggles are just as valid as any other struggle and these do not make them less of a man. What I’m finding, though, is many men don’t know how to ask for help.
4. Although finding a therapist is hard, it’s ultimately worth it. A.D. Burks, author of “The 4 STEPS: A Practical Guide to Breaking the Addictive Cycle, says “As the only child and son of a licensed professional counselor, you would think seeking therapy would be easy. But, it was just the opposite! I thought, ‘What can a therapist tell me that I don’t already know?’ After considerable prompting from a couple of close friends, I decided to schedule my first appointment. Unfortunately, that particular therapist wasn’t a good fit — prematurely confirming in my mind that I knew it all. Yet, I was still fighting addiction. Thankfully, my mentor challenged me to visit a specific therapist. My initial visit to that therapist changed my life and ultimately helped me formulate the 4 STEPS.