June 13th is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The stigma around mental illness is gradually starting to lift. Many people would previously not even consider seeing a therapist or telling family, friends or their supervisor that they were struggling. However, things have improved in recent years and, as a result, many lives that would have been lost to suicide have instead been saved. More and more people see the value in being open and accept that they need help.

This change has been a more difficult one for men. Traditionally, males are taught to keep their feelings to themselves and not show signs of weakness. This resulted in many troubled men not seeking help when they desperately needed it, sometimes leading to tragedy for both themselves and those around them.

Unfortunately, men carry out 80% of the suicides in Canada, with those aged 40-60 the ones most likely to take their own lives. This demographic has a particularly difficult time adjusting to life changes, such as downturns in employment, divorce, and relationship abuse.

Anti-depressants are one way to combat depression. These can be prescribed by a family doctor, rather than a therapist. However, as Joel Wong, Ph.D., a professor of counseling psychology at Indiana University puts it, “Pills don’t teach skills.”

The ideal way to combat mental illness issues like anxiety and depression is to develop both coping skills and a new attitude towards life and its problems. Regular appointments featuring talk therapy allow clients to voice their concerns to the therapist, something they may not be able to do with a partner, family members, or friends. Also, while those individuals are more than likely anxious to help, they lack the professional skills to advocate the correct approach.

Ongoing therapy allows clients and therapists to develop a wellness plan and adjust it accordingly. Keeping that open dialogue going provides an extremely valuable lifeline to help deal with one of the life’s most difficult challenges.



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