One cannot always be a hero, but one can always be a man.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Mental health has never been discussed more frequently in the media and workplaces and yet there is still a stigma attached to men seeking help for issues such as depression, anxiety or self-esteem. This stigma perpetuates a somewhat outdated (not that it was ever right!) belief that men are strong and should be able to handle their emotions without professional help.
This view is pervasive in our culture and creates a huge barrier to getting the support men need, and can lead to a sense of isolation, low self-worth, and in the worst-case scenario, to suicide.
Then there are men’s own prejudices: therapy is not "manly" or it’s self-indulgent. Often, men find themselves hesitant to seek out therapy for fear of judgement or ridicule. To guard against unwanted feelings, many men assume an attitude of superiority and contempt for others: I’m fine, it’s others who need help. Sadly, these issues are frequently covered up by addiction or lashing out at others.
Why it’s okay for men to have therapy
Mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of gender, and accepting help is in fact a sign of strength, not weakness. It is important to understand that there is no shame in getting help when you are feeling overwhelmed or lost.
Ignoring or denying mental health problems can lead to more severe issues impacting daily life. Seeking support can help men manage their symptoms and improve their overall wellbeing. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and seeking help should be seen as nothing more than a proactive step towards self-care and personal growth!
The good news is that once men get cracking, opening up often brings a rapid sense of relief: they've admitted something they were worried about, gotten it off their chest and the world hasn't collapsed. Being seen goes a long way too. It’s something we all crave but men especially are finding it hard to admit.
The benefits of therapy for men
Therapy can provide men with an opportunity to practice self-care and self-compassion (something the external world doesn’t offer them in abundance), as well as skills that they can use to manage difficult situations or conflict. It’s an effective way to learn how to communicate better with others and build healthier relationships.
From struggling with anxiety to coping with the loss of a loved one or navigating mid-life crisis, therapy can be a powerful tool to regain a sense of direction. It can also help manage and reduce stress levels, which also has tremendous benefits on physical health.
In my experience, it’s all about taking that first step and getting in the door. Once in the room, men can benefit from therapy just as much as women can.