05 Jan Men and Mental Health Stigma
Each new year, many of us contemplate ways to become the best versions of ourselves and reach our goals. We make resolutions to start taking our health seriously by joining gyms and eating healthy. However, we may overlook one important factor that can improve every aspect of our lives—prioritizing our mental health. This may be especially true for men. Even with the rise of programs and campaigns to support men’s mental health, there is still a gap in the number of men seeking help for stress, anxiety and other mental health concerns.
A Cleveland Clinic survey revealed that 41% of men were told as children that men don’t complain about health issues. Which often means that visiting the doctor and taking care of one’s health could be associated with weakness. A lack of education about available resources and fear are also contributing factors to men’s hesitation to seeking support when needed. There are various factors to blame which surround mental health stigma and social norms about manhood.
For the men in our lives who may be struggling with getting mental health services and prioritizing their health, it is important to identify the root causes of the behavior and ways to support them. We sat down with CHRIS 180’s Vice President of Community Residential Programs De’Meco Bell CPCS, JSOCC, LPC for his insight on how to combat mental health stigma:
How can men in leadership roles motivate men to seek mental health services?
Bell: Be visible. It is ok to have these types of conversations. For example, a lot of people think If they ask questions around suicide, a person will decide to kill themselves, or if you ask someone if they are suicidal that you are going to put the thought in their mind. That’s not true at all. It is important to normalize the conversation. It is ok to talk about it. If you don’t hear from a friend or family member for a long time, call them and check in on them just to see how they are doing.
What should men know about mental health services?
Bell: A lot of men don’t even know help is available. They don’t know what mental health services are. When some people think about therapy, they assume it is for rich people or for a certain type of person when it’s for everyone. I think the key to is to normalize the process. If men knew how prevalent therapy was, they would be more receptive. It has to become cool.
What are some of the reasons that male clients avoid getting help?
Bell: I think there are a couple of reasons. With the Black population, it could be due to a lack of education. A lot of times people, male or female, may not know what resources are available. The second reason being generational trauma. There may be a family history of not believing in that type of thing, especially in the religious African-American communities that believe you can just pray mental health issues away. I would also say it has to do with gender roles. Men are taught to be tough and not to be vulnerable. If men are dealing with something, or have problems, it is the norm to bottle up feelings instead of expressing them.
What are some ways that men can become more open to help?
Bell: I do think it is getting better. If you go to CHRIS 180’S counseling centers and clinics, you will see more men than you would probably see historically in the past. You may have heard this phrase before; it’s ok to not be ok, and it is important to learn about the benefits of talking to someone or seeking help if. It doesn’t make you less of an individual because you need a little pick me up.
Now is the perfect time to seek mental health support. There are many mental health resources available and coping skills that men can use to improve their overall wellbeing. Finding a licensed mental health therapist can be a major part of starting the new year right. To get connected to a CHRIS 180 Therapist, visit chris180.org/counselingcenters or contact [email protected]
Briyanna Ferguson is the Marketing & Communications Coordinator at CHRIS 180. She can be reached at [email protected]