5 Ways to Support the Men in Your Life

How do you show up for the men in your life? For your brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers? Do you know what they need to feel supported by you, or do you find yourself overlooking their mental health needs?

June is Men’s Mental Health Month, a month dedicated to highlighting the specific mental health challenges men face today. 

Is there a stigma on men’s mental health?

Men are all too often told to keep quiet about their feelings and experiences and to put up a front of everything being fine. When men are pushed to hide their true feelings, this can worsen existing mental health difficulties, as well as create new ones. This lack of support around mental health has devastating consequences, as men are twice as likely to have substance abuse issues and four times as likely to attempt or die by suicide than women. 

What’s worse, only around half of men who would benefit from mental healthcare seek it. The most common barrier is mental health care being seen as emasculating and only for the weak. Other barriers also exist, often arising from social expectations around identity for men.

What gets in the way of men receiving the help they need?

Mental health stigmas for Black men

Black men are even less likely to seek mental health treatment than white men, despite often carrying multigenerational trauma as racially motivated violence and systemic discrimination are common towards Black Americans. This systemic discrimination has created a justifiable distrust for the healthcare industry, and this distrust makes it harder for Black men to both seek mental healthcare and find support among their loved ones when they do seek it. 

Mental health stigmas for dads

As we head into Father’s Day 2024, it’s worth talking about mental health and fatherhood. For instance, at least 25% of dads experience postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, but you rarely hear about it, and men are almost never asked if they have symptoms. Only a little over half of dads feel comfortable expressing emotions as of 2023, a clear sign that society makes it difficult for men to talk about their mental health.

Dads can feel pressured to be superhuman, not showing any cracks in their perceived strength as a father figure. This pressure, coupled with the pressure to not express themselves, can add to a dad’s mental health struggles.  

Mental health stigmas for professional men

There are also entrenched stigmas in the workplace against men expressing their emotions, even in a healthy way. Professional men are discouraged from seeking any support around work stress, and even the experience of reflecting on feelings can create anxiety for men because of their internalized shame around men’s mental health. Due to mental health challenges and pressure to keep silent, men can struggle with focusing at work, networking, attempting new projects, and enjoying collaboration with coworkers. 

How can you prioritize men’s mental health support?

We all have men we care about in our lives. All of us can encourage and support the men in our families, our friend groups, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods when it comes to mental health. We all have a chance to make changes, helping the men we love and respect around us to feel safe in expressing their honest feelings so they can find the support they need. 

  • Frame seeking help as a bold, brave sign of strength.some text
    • It’s tough to stand up to social expectations, and it takes real strength to open up about mental health. Sharing with the men in your life that you know that seeking help takes bravery frames therapy as something a man can do, and still remain manly in the eyes of social expectations.
  • Be vulnerable, and welcome his vulnerability in return.some text
    • Sharing your own mental health struggles can show a man that there’s no shame in being open and honest. Having direct conversations about your own mental health can act as an invitation for the men in your life to open up to you, and to others because they can see how your openness helps you connect with others. 
  • Lead the way with your own mental health journey.some text
    • Seeking therapy, and sharing the benefits you’ve found in therapy, show the men in your life specific ways therapy can be useful. Having someone they know talk about therapy also shows them that openness isn’t a sign of weakness.
  • Find other men who have sought therapy as examples.some text
    • Find men in your life who have benefitted from mental healthcare, or find examples of male athletes, famed YouTubers, and celebrities, and (with permission) share their stories. These men are still considered masculine, and they lead by example with their openness and honesty.
  • Collect family and friends together to support men in their mental health struggles.some text
    • Only receiving support from one person in a man’s life may still make it tough for that man to feel like support for their mental health is within reach. Adding the voices of coworkers, friends, and family can show the men in your life that they have more support than they might have expected. It can be intimidating to start the therapy process, and having people in his corner can help a man in your life take the first steps toward going to therapy.

What does helpful therapy look like for men?

Finding a therapist like Aaron Graham, who specializes in men's mental health, career coaching, and BIPOC issues, can help men feel seen and understood in ways that allow them to approach their mental health with honesty. Aaron’s approach to therapy is one many therapists have started to take, including non-judgment and collaboration in the therapy room.

Aaron connects with his clients on a personal level, working with them to help lift the stigma around men seeking mental health care. If you or a man you know is ready to take a cooperative,  approach to therapy, reflecting on lived experiences, confronting roadblocks that stand in the way of mental well-being, and co-creating opportunities for personal growth, Aaron is ready to help.

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