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Man Up – Why Asking for Mental Health Help is the New Show of Strength

How many times have you been told to “man up” or that “boys don’t cry?” Phrases like these, born from the social stigma that men are supposed to be self-reliant and physically and mentally strong, are suspected to be the reason why men in western cultures are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women. This men’s mental health epidemic affects not only the depressed men but their friends and families.

Read on to learn why “manning up” should mean being strong enough to ask for help with mental health issues, to seek treatment, and learn new ways to cope with stress, anxiety, past traumas and general pressures of life.

A Silent Crisis in Men’s Health

In higher-income cultures, or western civilizations like the United States and Europe, there has long been a stigma that men aren’t allowed to talk about their feelings. It’s more manly to suffer in silence. The age-old sitcom joke of a couple getting lost because the man refuses to stop and ask for help gets a lot of use because we’ve all known someone like that. This belief, whether grown or innate, leads to men’s negative attitudes toward using mental health services like counseling and treatment programs.
These attitudes, that they need to suck it up and that seeking outside help for mental health problems is for “weak men” is one of researchers contributing factors to what the WHO is calling a silent epidemic involving depressed men and taking their own lives. It’s estimated that more than 6 million American men are suffering from depression every year. On top of that, 3 million men are suffering from some type of anxiety disorder.

The cultural stigmas surrounding men’s behavior leads to many men not seeking mental health treatment and learning skills to cope with the stress. But, you could argue the other side of the coin easily – a man who seeks mental health help when needed, against the pressures of the media and society, is showing more strength than pulling a truck down a football field.

Let’s look at a cost-benefit analysis of seeking mental health and addiction help.

The Cost of Not Seeking Mental Health and Addiction Help

Before understanding how something might be of benefit, it’s important to understand the costs associated with it, or with not seeking mental health help. While the monetary cost is one aspect to consider, also consider the physical and emotional costs to avoiding mental health problems.

When suffering from depression, men are more likely to shows symptoms like irritability, anger, and lack of interest in their normal life. Regularly being irritable or angry around our family, friends or coworkers will eventually have a negative impact on those relationships – with them either feeling like their walking on eggshells or not wanting to continue interacting in the same way. Additionally, men are more likely to go to the doctor for the physical symptoms of anxiety and depression – like a racing heart, headaches or digestive issues. If the doctor asks how they’ve been feeling mentally, the natural instinct is to brush off any mental health and/or addiction concerns, leading the doctor to treat only the physical symptoms that are present.
Other studies show that men with mental health problems are far more likely to self-medicate than women. Typically, men turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their mental health struggles. Drugs and alcohol cost money, have physical side effects that can affect work performance and relationships, as well as damage the body.

Benefits of Asking for Help with Mental Health Problems and Addiction

The cost of mental health problems and addiction is both emotional and physical, and the benefits can be both as well. When you seek treatment with a licensed therapist or counselor, you’re taking the first step to regaining control of your life and saying, “I’m strong enough to get through this and get back to the person I want to be.”

Working individually with a therapist and participating in group therapy will provide you with the tools you need to cope with stress, anxiety, addiction and depression, as well as guide you in working to repair relationships that have been damaged or broken while you were suffering from symptoms. In addition, stress, anxiety, depression and addiction can have a physical effect on the health of your body. By learning better techniques to properly deal with stress, depression, anxiety, and addiction, you could be lessening the physical impact on the health of your internal organs.

Treatment Options for Men’s Mental Health

Now, let’s explore what individual therapy and group support can look like. Therapy is not all guessing and talking around your mental health concerns – but it is a lot about what work you put into it. You work hard to improve your golf game or increase the weight you can lift at the gym, the same drive and mentality will help with strengthening your mental health game.

CBT, or cognitive-behavioral therapy, is a goal-based practice that helps patients identify how they are feeling about their triggers and change that mindset or learn techniques to better cope with triggers. Usually with this type of therapy, there’s an end-goal that’s discussed between the patient and therapist, and that sets the direction for each therapy session. Studies back the success of CBT as a therapy technique.

Another option for managing stress and anxiety is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), built based on the principle of mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t some higher-level playing field. It’s simply knowing and acknowledging your feelings, thoughts, and sensations in the moment. DBT teaches this awareness and builds on the awareness by developing skills to manage crises and your response to them.

The therapy practice that can work best for your men’s mental health struggle depends on you, your situation, and other factors. After speaking with a therapist, they can recommend the best course of treatment for you.

Stop suffering in silence. Manning up isn’t going to work when it comes to treatment for depression and anxiety, addictions, and stress management. Call us at 602-536-4228 or submit a request for a telehealth or in person appointment today.

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