Overcoming the Stigma of Therapy as a Man

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Overcoming the Stigma of Therapy As a Man

Therapy is one of the mainstays of mental health and addiction treatment programs. For as many mental health conditions that are recognized, there are methods of treatment to alleviate their symptoms. Men tend to be more reluctant to seek help for their issues than women, often causing them to struggle in secrecy. This article will discuss the dilemma men face and how you can present information that makes seeing a therapist attractive often for them.

Many Men Suffer Silently

Both men and women are impacted by mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Although, men face some unique challenges.

Some scholars propose, that “there is a silent crisis in men’s mental health”. In North America, men make up most cases of suicide (75%) and substance use disorders (SUDs) (75%). Men are also more likely to develop a SUD.

Ironically, the prevalence of mental disorders for men is lower compared to that of women.

What’s Responsible for the Disparity?

This disconnect between rates of suicide and SUD on the one hand, and rates of mental disorders on the other, could be due to reporting biases. Men may be more reluctant to seek help for their mental health issues than women, resulting in numbers that never get represented in the statistics. These facts are demonstrated by the fact that men diagnosed are also less likely to receive treatment.

Methods of data collection may also contribute to this problem. For example, concerning mental health symptoms can be confused for ‘masculinity,’ such as irritability or “acting out,” when really, these symptoms are a cry for help. This confusion may be contributing to “inaccurately low prevalence rates as well as…male false-negatives” in diagnostic tests.

Reasons He May Be Hesitant

For many women, it might be challenging to understand why men often avoid discussions about getting help for mental health issues.

It turns out that men usually have fairly logical reasons they are cautious about revealing their innermost secrets:

  • Are afraid they will look weak
  • Believe that therapy will not help
  • Fear a loss of respect or status
  • Are worried about burdening others
  • Are afraid of being made fun of, even jokingly
  • Believe he can solve his problems on his own
  • Fear the stigma surrounding mental health issues

Approach the Topic With Care

You know the saying, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it?” Context is important in these situations as well, but in this case, it is not only how you suggest therapy, but when and where. As a general pattern, men have different ways of interacting and expressing themselves than women. These intricacies are important to recognize and respect if you are to convince your significant other to see a professional.

Three Ways to Communicate Your Message

#1. Pick the setting wisely. What kind of activities does your man like to do? Carve out some time to spend together doing an activity that he enjoys, particularly one that encourages reflection and is on the calmer end of the spectrum (e.g., nature hike). Choosing an environment such as this will put him in his comfort zone, helping him open up.

#2. Do not be so direct. Whichever activity you choose, make sure it does not involve too much face-to-face interaction. Men tend to form bonds and a sense of belonging through “should-to-shoulder” activities. Confronting them face-to-face may not be productive in facilitating this type of conversation.

#3. Call therapy by a different name. The phrases “going to therapy” or “seeing a professional” can trigger a red flag. Try using words like mental ‘training,’ ‘coaching,’ or ‘workshop.’

Some Other Helpful Tips

To be clear, it is not that men do not want to talk about their problems. Of course, some men do not. But on average, it is likely that your man is just waiting for the right time or reason. Here are some other helpful tips to aid them in considering therapy:

  • Convey your concerns about their behavior in a blame-free way. Use non-ambiguous “I” statements.
  • Pull up some stats on the millions of people, men, and women, that go to therapy every year. Get the message across that therapy is a regular routine for many people, and they do not have to go forever.
  • Learn about different types of therapy yourself and share this information with them. They may not understand how therapy can benefit them and how effective it has been for other people.
  • If your guy is hesitant, the first step of searching for a therapist may never happen. Help him out. Find therapists in your area and note 3 or 4 that might work.
  • Suggest therapy on a trial basis, so they do not feel trapped. If they do not like the first one on the list, he has three more to try out.

Find a Credentialed Therapist

There are mental health treatment centers with certified therapists who specialize in mental health treatment. Search around and give them a call to find out about their services and how they can help.

Therapy has helped millions of people recover from mental disorders and addiction. Still, many men struggle to leap treatment. Stigma and fears can be overpowering, causing men to shut down and avoid the conversation. Avalon Malibu is a California state-licensed treatment center located in Malibu, CA. We treat adults who have mental health and substance use disorders. We recognize the difficulties of getting a man to accept treatment and, once in treatment, open up. Sharing stories of past trauma and conflict can feel demoralizing and rock the foundation of manhood. Our highly trained and experienced therapists know just the tips and tricks to help your man out. We offer diverse psychotherapy and experiential programs to give your man the agency to make decisions for his treatment, helping to facilitate his commitment to recovery. For more information, please call us at: (844) 857-5992.

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