Less than half of the men with mental health challenges ever get help for them. The reasons for this are many, including lack of information, stigma associated with mental illness, and masculine ideals. Men who adhere steadfastly to masculine norms, such as power, strength, and emotional control, may be most at risk for negative psychological outcomes. In fact, because so few men seek help for their problems, they are more vulnerable to suicide and substance abuse than females. Joshua L. Berger of Clark University’s Department of Psychology in Massachusetts wanted to examine the factors that prevent men from getting the help they need. In a recent study, Berger assessed the help seeking attitudes and avenues of men in need. He also looked at how they reacted to two common clinical terms: depression and anxiety. Overall, Berger found that the men who had the strongest affinity toward masculine norms were the least likely to seek help. They reacted the most dramatically to anxiety and depression, and were the least likely to consider medication as a treatment option. Berger also found that the men were more inclined to going to therapy if a psychotherapist recommended it rather than if it was suggested by a romantic partner or a family practitioner. They also cited individual talk therapy as their preferred mode of treatment. These findings demonstrate that even though friends and family members may mean well when offering help to their loved men in need of psychological treatment, suggestions from mental health professionals will have the most impact. Lowering men’s risk for suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and other negative behaviors is paramount, and the evidence revealed in this study may bring the mental health profession one step closer toward achieving that goal. “Generally speaking, these results underscore the importance of considering the specific type of help under consideration when discussing men’s attitudes toward help-seeking,” Berger said.
Every man has his secret sorrows
which the world knows not;
and often times we call a man cold
when he is only sad.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow