Overcoming Barriers to Men’s Mental Health Care
For many men, phrases like “toughen up” or “boys don’t cry” start in early childhood. This unhealthy narrative leads some men to grow up thinking they aren’t allowed to show emotions and that vulnerability compromises their strength. Since this mindset can be prevalent with men and boys, they may not know how to process their emotions in a healthy way.
The stigma is a generations-old narrative. Historically, when the topic of mental health comes up for men, they may have been told to figure out feelings on their own, not to show emotions at all, or that communicating their feelings makes them appear weak. However, when they are able to overcome the stigma and seek help, “most men find that once they give therapy an honest try, they realize that it is helpful, and feel more inclined to go regularly,” says Josh Lupardus, Mental Health Counselor at Centerstone.
Another barrier is that many men feel more comfortable speaking to another man about their mental health concerns. However, men make up just a quarter of the nation’s therapists. “A lot of men feel like they need to speak with a man because they don’t think a woman could fully understand what they’re going through,” says Lupardus. While there are specific topics that can only be understood by men, there are certainly many shared life experiences for men and women.
While these barriers may lead to apprehension about mental health treatment, there are ways for men to overcome these barriers and start prioritizing themselves:
- Talk it out. If you are experiencing mental health concerns and aren’t sure where to start, you may want to consider confiding in a close friend or loved one. Saying our feelings out loud can help us better understand them and can be a brave first step in acknowledging them.
- Take it slow. Addressing emotions can be intimidating for anyone, and it’s important to move at a pace that feels right for you.
- Be patient. When starting therapy, most people won’t see a drastic change in themselves over night. This is why it’s good to be patient with yourself, and remember that these things take time.
- Consider alternatives. If meeting face-to-face with a therapist feels uncomfortable, consider tele-health appointments instead.
- Prioritize yourself. Self-care is important, and can look different for everyone. Listen to your mind and body and trust that they will tell you what you need. Whether it be exercise, listening to your favorite album, or spending time with friends and family, there is always time to prioritize yourself.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health concerns, Centerstone can help. Call us at 877-HOPE123 (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page.