Determining the Occasions When Men Are Prepared to Pursue Mental Healthcare
As we continue to discover more about the impacts of mental health conditions, we are also gaining insight into how different groups cope with them and approach treatment. For instance, while women experience a higher prevalence of mental illnesses, men are more likely to suffer from suicide, alcohol abuse, and drug misuse, leading to fatal outcomes.¹
This particular statistic is often attributed to the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health struggles among men, which may be perceived as a threat to their masculinity. Despite efforts to encourage openness about mental health issues, it is evident that there is still much work to be done in order to increase the number of men with psychiatric disorders who seek treatment.
In recent years, numerous studies have been conducted to explore male mental healthcare. Some have examined the factors that influence men's willingness to accept treatment, while others have sought ways to encourage men to seek mental health services. Certain studies have also aimed to challenge the commonly held belief that men are less likely to seek help. What does research reveal about men's inclination to seek care for their mental health struggles?
Preference for Mental Health Interventions Among MenA study published in the American Journal of Men's Health in 2023 analyzed a survey of Australian men to gain insights into the factors that contribute to their engagement or disconnection from mental health services.² While the study has its limitations, it sheds light on the thoughts and considerations of men who are willing to pursue treatment as well as what may deter them from continuing to do so.
The researchers observed that many men disengage from mental health services due to a perceived lack of authenticity and professionalism. Some expressed feeling unheard and unsupported, while others found themselves with no healthcare professional to turn to after their previous provider retired or relocated without offering alternative services. The difficulty of navigating the Australian healthcare system to find consistent and accessible care was also highlighted by many men.
When asked what would make them more likely to reengage with mental health services, participants emphasized the importance of honest and transparent communication to create an environment where they feel understood and can develop trust. They also expressed a stronger inclination to seek help if the process of reentry into the mental health care system was made easier.
Interestingly, despite the stereotype of male stoicism in the face of mental health struggles, many men reported positive experiences with peer workers and community-based approaches. This included participation in support groups where individuals with lived experiences come together, as respondents felt that the social element made them more comfortable and connected to the treatment process.
The concept of utilizing communities to facilitate mental health support has also been explored in other recent studies. For example, a paper published in JMIR Formative Research in 2022 examined the mental health needs of young Black men, a demographic often overlooked and underserved.³ Through interviews with Black male university attendees in the American Midwest, the researchers discovered that participants were interested in accessing mental health resources through social media. They sought a community of individuals who could relate to their unique experiences and struggles.
Mental Health Following Relationship ChangesMajor life events such as the end of an intimate relationship can act as triggers for individuals with mental illnesses. A breakup can lead to increased feelings of isolation and depression, making it crucial to examine how men seek help during these circumstances. A review published in Qualitative Health Research in 2022 examined interviews with 47 men to understand their approaches to seeking assistance after a breakup. The findings challenged stereotypes by revealing that more men are willing to engage in mental health services during these challenging times.
Among the participants, 24 out of 47 opted for professional mental health care. Many sought support not only because of the dissolved relationship but also because they realized they had underlying mental health conditions that required management.
Additionally, 12 participants mentioned actively reconnecting with previous connections and reaching out to establish new ones as part of their self-care. This involved joining community and support groups specifically tailored for individuals going through breakups, allowing them to focus on their mental health recovery. The other 11 interviewees adopted a more solitary approach to care while also utilizing their existing connections. The researchers concluded that despite stereotypically masculine tendencies toward self-reliance, many men still express an interest in seeking help for their mental well-being, and there is evidence to suggest that they benefit from such care.
Advancements in Mental Health Care Targeted at MenA review published in Frontiers in Psychology in 2023 explored psychotherapy options specifically designed for men, highlighting their potential to improve therapeutic adherence and effectiveness.⁵ Male-focused psychoeducation for major depressive disorder, which involves educating individuals about depressive symptoms and male perspectives, has shown promise in mitigating negative effects.
An extensive evaluation was also conducted on more recent community-based initiatives, such as the James’ Place program in the United Kingdom. This program offered clinical interventions specifically designed for men experiencing suicidal thoughts, and the findings revealed its effectiveness in reducing these thoughts and improving clinical outcomes. Based on the research, it was concluded that as exploration progresses regarding traditional masculine ideologies, these targeted interventions could contribute to enhancing mental health education by minimizing the stigmas that often deter men from seeking help.
1. Chatmon BN. The Stigma Surrounding Men and Mental Health. American Journal of Men's Health. 2020 Jul-Aug;14(4):1557988320949322. doi: 10.1177/1557988320949322. PMID: 32812501; PMCID: PMC7444121.
2. Kwon M, Lawn S, Kaine C. Exploring Men's Engagement and Disengagement in Mental Health Support-Seeking. American Journal of Men's Health. 2023 Mar-Apr;17(2):15579883231157971. doi: 10.1177/15579883231157971. PMID: 36880329; PMCID: PMC9996733.
3. Williams KDA, Wijaya C, Stamatis CA, Abbott G, Lattie EG. Exploration of Needs and Preferences for Mental Health Support Among Black Male University Students through Social Media and Mobile Apps: Qualitative Study. JMIR Formative Research. 2022 Aug 31;6(8):e38716. doi: 10.2196/38716. PMID: 36044261; PMCID: PMC9475414.
4. Oliffe JL, Kelly MT, Gonzalez Montaner G, Seidler ZE, Kealy D, Ogrodniczuk JS, Rice SM. Examining Men's Help-Seeking Behavior Regarding Mental Health After the Dissolution of an Intimate Partner Relationship. Qualitative Health Research. 2022 Aug;32(10):1464-1476. doi: 10.1177/10497323221110974. Epub 2022 Jun 25. PMID: 35758178; PMCID: PMC9411703.
5. Eggenberger L, Ehlert U, Walther A. Novel Approaches to Psychotherapy Tailored for Men with Depression. Frontiers in Psychology. 2023 Apr 18;14:1146078. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1146078. PMID: 37143589; PMCID: PMC10151934.
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