The British ‘stiff upper lip’ has seen men choosing not to come to therapy. Many instead, feel obliged to deal with any issues themselves and keep it all in. For many, this can lead to addiction (legal and illegal drugs) to ease their emotional pain. For some, it can even lead to suicide. It was interesting to see GQ (Gentlemen’s Quarterly) leading with an article (Real Men Do Do Therapy) on male mental health, psychotherapy, therapy and counselling by Loise Chunn the founder of Welldoing.org.
The film ‘Side Effects’ illustrates the British view on male mental health and therapy the best. In the States, they are congratulated for seeking a therapist (‘Well done for getting better’). Whereas, in England we are demonised for going to therapy (‘You see a therapist? What’s wrong with you?’)
As male suicide rates continue to soar, the suicide statistic support by The Samaritans, states ‘The suicide rate among men aged 45-59, 25.1 per 100,000, is the highest for this group since 1981″. Something has to be done so that therapy is an option for both men and women.
So much is expected of us in our modern age that we need an outlet. Sometimes we all need help and instead of therapy being demonised, it should be seen as a viable option to support male mental health and development. In the GQ article, Louise Chunn not only normalises men seeking help with their mental and emotional well-being, but also celebrates it.
If you had a broken hand wouldn’t you go and get it fixed? Well, that’s exactly how we should feel about our mental health.
Male mental health and therapy
It may seem daunting coming to see a therapist. But, no matter how big or small you might think your problems are, talking can help you conceptualise, understand and deal with them so that they no longer have a hold on your life.
When explaining how therapy works, I find it helpful to use the analogy of ripping off a plaster. If you leave the plaster on too long, the wound will get infected, affecting your general health. If you rip the plaster off slowly, it will hurt a little bit every time you try. Ripping it straight off will hurt for a moment and then the pain (and plaster) will be gone forever. By ripping that plaster off, the healing process can start.