Men and Mental Health

Written on Sunday 27th December 2020

There are some challenges faced by Men alone. 
Messages heard can include:
* Boys don't cry
* Be a man 
* Don't be a wuss
* Don't be soft
* Pull yourself together
* Suck it up
* Real men don't talk about feelings
Although the messages given to men are improving, you can't easily undo decades of hearing these wrong messages, there's understandably been a lasting impact on. This can be seen evidenced in 2 ways - the high suicide rates of men and the low percentage of men who access therapy. 

Yet it's precisely these messages that mean that talking about feelings and accessing therapy are even more important. 
The most common way that men with emotional problems seek help is to see their GP for physical symptoms (that are triggered by emotional causes). I talked in my last blog about the need to listen to our body and what it's telling us. For most of my male clients, if it wasn't for those physical symptoms, they likely would never have got help. They would have kept suffering in silence. 

The connotation that emotional problems equals weak is so damaging. It means that rather than seeking out help, men try to hide and disguise the problem. They go to all sorts of lengths to pretend there is nothing wrong, and can end up pulled into all sorts of harmful self-medicating such as drugs, booze, gambling and affairs. 

Common problems I work on with my male clients include:
* Burnout/Work stress
* Excessive worry & Difficulty relaxing
* Low Self-Esteem
* Depression
* Anger management
* Relationship problems/infidelity
* Panic attacks

So often I hear from my male clients' beliefs about themselves such as "I'm a failure", "I'm not good enough", "I'm a burden on my family". What is heart-breaking is how far from true these things are, yet the belief is so strong. 

Thankfully, therapy is highly effective. My clients particularly value my straight-talking approach and practical teaching methods. I come at therapy from an education and problem-solving approach. 

I am proud that I see lots of clients for therapy, that they are comfortable getting in touch. But so many more will be suffering in silence. 

If you are reading this article and struggling yourself, you can contact CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) who run online support/helpline as well as campaigns about male mental health

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