April 8


Breaking the Stigma: Men and Mental Health in the Therapy Landscape

April 8, 2024

The societal stigma surrounding men's mental illness and their utilization of therapies, like psychotherapy, group therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), is often described as having profound consequences for the mental health of men. It can impact their help-seeking abilities, use of available services, and overall wellness.

Mental health is crucial to both emotional and physical health. For those struggling with their mental well-being, access to mental health professionals can have a positive impact on their overall feeling of wellness.

After years of lack of research into the topic, it is now accepted that mental health includes physical health and vice versa and that physical health issues can be exacerbated and caused by poor mental health.

Breaking the societal stigma surrounding men's mental health is needed to ensure the overall health of male friends and family members. This article seeks to address the stigma, what causes it, how it impacts men, and how PsyVitalitï might be able to help.

Find out more below.

Therapy for Men: Societal Stigma

Statistics surrounding men's mental health can be alarming to most. With men much less likely to access help for mental health problems and with suicide being three times higher in men in Canada, it is critical that we as a society break the stigma surrounding men, their mental health, and what it means to access support.

What Causes the Societal Stigma Surrounding Therapy Sessions for Men?

Before being able to break the stigma surrounding men's mental well-being, we must first look into the causes of the stigma. So, what actually causes the disparity in the health-seeking actions of men and women when it comes to mental wellness?

First and foremost, the societal pressures for men to be strong, stoic, and self-sufficient can have a profound impact on men. Feeling down, anxious, depressed, or sad can lead to feelings of weakness in men who have spent their lives being told that males are meant to be strong providers. In fact, in many cases, the idea of emotions in general can be associated with being more feminine and less masculine by many cultures around the world.

A lack of understanding of mental illness and well-being is also a cause of general mental health stigma, but when coupled with gender stereotypes, it can cause difficulties in men looking to find a therapist. Misunderstanding, misinformation, ignorance, and prejudice all contribute to not only discrimination against people with a mental illness but can stop people from feeling comfortable when seeking different types of therapy.

In general, men and masculinity are defined in opposition to femininity. Seeking help, feeling emotional, and seeking healthcare can all be defined within the realm of femininity. Hence, men are much less likely to seek professional help for their mental well-being. Even when they do, they will seek quicker short-term solutions.

What Impact Does the Societal Stigma Surrounding Therapy for Men Have on Men's Mental Health?

The societal stigma, as already discussed, impacts whether men seek help for their mental and emotional well-being, as well as causes feelings of shame, fear, embarrassment, guilt, and isolation.

Men tend to believe that they are negatively stereotyped as weak and failures when they are seen to engage with mental health professionals. Even when they do seek help, they are likely to be reluctant to talk and will downplay symptoms.

While depression is most common in women, men can still experience it and are much less likely to seek help because of it. The picture is similar with anxiety disorders. Men tend to be more at risk for conditions like PTSD and substance misuse.

Though these facts may make it seem like men are just less likely to experience certain mental health conditions, it doesn't mean they don't experience them. In fact, depression, along with suicide, is actually a leading cause of death in men, even though they're less likely, as a gender, to experience the condition.

The social stigma surrounding seeking help means that for men who do experience these conditions, symptoms could not only go on for longer but be more severe and result in much more serious consequences due to a reluctance to talk about how they're feeling.

Combatting Societal Stigma in Men's Mental Health Care

The statistics and facts surrounding the stigma of men's mental health can be tough to read, but hope is not lost. In fact, even in recent years, though there has been a drop in how likely men are to discuss mental health issues with their partners, they are more likely to take other positive steps. These include looking for information on the subject, seeing their doctor, talking to their family, talking to a friend, finding a therapist, and buying a self-help book.

So, as the tides turn, albeit slowly, on how men view mental wellness, what can we do to combat this societal stigma?

The first step is the same as it always has been, and that is talking. Talking about mental health reduces the stigma; discussing how you feel with others can make you feel less alone and make it more likely that the men in your life will not isolate themselves.

Another step to take is to boost the accessibility of services. Many men surveyed by the mental health charity Mind discussed a lack of knowledge on where to begin when seeking help. So, for schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, and mental health clinics, accessibility is critical.

At PsyVitalitï, we're committed to this goal and make it easy for male students to seek mental health help through our Student Wellness Program.

Noticing the Signs

A straightforward way to help the men in your life is noticing the signs of mental and emotional distress. These include the following.

  • Sleep or appetite changes
  • Mood changes
  • Withdrawal forms social interactions
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Reduced functioning, like failing classes, quitting sports, or difficulty performing tasks
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Apathy
  • Feeling disconnected from others and one's surroundings
  • Illogical or exaggerated thinking
  • Nervousness
  • Uncharacteristic behaviour
  • Changes in school or work behaviour, like absenteeism

Of course, not everyone will experience every one of these symptoms, and it is essential to note that even if you don't experience or notice these symptoms, seeking help when you're worried is always best.

Seeking Help: Different Types of Mental Health Support

With a lack of understanding playing a role in people's access to mental health support, we've added a quick list covering the different kinds of mental health support that you can access and how it might help.

  • Counselling: These services support people who are currently experiencing challenging situations. A counsellor will create a positive environment for you to discuss issues.
  • Psychotherapy: This service is with a trained psychotherapist and involves discussing mental health problems and emotional issues. It is often used by people with chronic conditions like anxiety and depression, as well as substance abuse problems and personality disorders
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Known as CBT, this form of therapy addresses patterns and helps clients to focus on the present and identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

Ready to take the next step?

We are currently accepting new clients for online video or phone appointments. 

How PsyVitalitï Can Help

PsyVitalitï is a team of psychologists and therapists working across Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia to provide in-person and online therapy and coaching services.

We offer a wide range of therapy services that include CBT, psychotherapy, counselling, work with social workers, and more. We also offer an array of coaching services including life, career, health, academic coaching and more.

If you're struggling with your mental health, reach out to us today for the support you deserve. There is no shame in asking for help, and the impacts of receiving care can have a profound effect on your quality of life

Final Thoughts

The stigma surrounding men's mental health has had a profound impact on the way men see their mental and emotional wellness for a long time. Standing up to this stigma and acknowledging that not only is there no shame in seeking help but that when you do, you can significantly improve your own life is critical to combating stigma.

At PsyVitalitï, we're committed to reducing the shame and isolation men feel when they experience poor mental health. We want men to seek help when they need it and live the life that they deserve. If you need help for your mental and emotional help, or you're worried about a male friend or family member, contact us today for more information on our services.
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