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Shift Spotlight
June 1, 2023
Men’s Mental Health: Let’s Talk About It

Colin Hayward

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Speaking Out for Men’s Mental Health Month

The statistics show that we have all experienced it. I won’t bore you with numbers - but trust me - almost all of us will experience common mental health symptoms at some point. And if we don’t feel we need help right now, we probably know someone who does. However, for many men getting that help means fighting through some serious stigma, both internal and external voices that tell us to keep things to ourselves, that reaching out for help is weak, or that we should be able to handle this on our own. However, If there is one thing we know, it is that sharing our thoughts and feelings and connecting with others is really important to improving our mental health overall. We need to have conversations about how things are going for ourselves and the people around us. 

Here are some ways to gently encourage yourself to start those conversations:

Be curious

If talking about yourself is hard, how about listening to someone else? It is so powerful when we discover that we are not alone in our thoughts and feelings and that others struggle with the same things. How can you gently ask other people in your life, whether they identify as men or not, to share some of their stories? Doing so could also help you open up and share what is happening with yourself. Being vulnerable and asking for help is hard, but remember, it is always a two-way street. Having someone trust you with their concerns can help develop the confidence to do the same with them.

Be open

If you are having a hard time, reaching out to someone you trust is an important step. It can be a friend, a family member, or a therapist. Sometimes just being able to share some of our internal struggles is enough to help us get back on track. And sometimes, that conversation spurs us to more action if that is what we need. As noted above, being vulnerable is a two-way street and often makes both people feel more connected. And remember, you don’t have to share everything. Start with what feels comfortable…or maybe one smidge past comfortable.

Check out these podcasts and book reccomendations:

In the spirit of being vulnerable and asking for help, I’ll be honest and say that the resources below have personally helped me, so here are some ideas that can perhaps get you thinking about what mental health means to you.

Podcast resources: 

The Man Enough Podcast 

Beautiful/Anonymous Podcast

Book resources:

Understanding Man’s Search for Meaning: Viktor Frankl

I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression: Terrence Real

Be accountable

Being accountable means taking responsibility for our actions and thinking about how they affect ourselves and others. There are a lot of voices that say that mental health concerns don’t need to be taken seriously or that we can handle them ourselves. I bet some of those voices come from inside of us. Being accountable means being willing to call ourselves and others out when we think we are being unhelpful. It can be as simple as reminding yourself that it’s okay to reach out and risk being vulnerable. Or it can mean gently reminding a friend that their words might dismiss someone else’s mental health concerns. It is all about having open and honest conversations that prioritize mental health. And when the people around you are on board, you can help keep each other accountable and motivated.

Speaking of being accountable, here is a great initiative happening this June to help motivate us to get moving for our mental health:

Remember, things can get better

The whole point of this is feeling better. Sometimes it can feel like we either deserve our lot in life or there is no way that things can improve. Well, let me tell you that neither of those things is true. As a therapist, I have seen men work through all kinds of issues to feel more joyful, at peace, and happy - I think the most remarkable changes can make us feel better than we even thought was possible. As a person (and a client of therapy), I have experienced the same thing, how being vulnerable and asking for help leads to growth and better relationships. I think much of the unhelpful discourse around men’s mental health comes from the idea that we somehow aren’t designed to seek connection and access our feelings, but again I have seen the opposite to be true.

And remember, there are as many ways to heal as there are people in the world - if none of these speak to you, then try something different and creative that helps you connect with the people around you and put your mental health first.


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