The Importance of Therapy for Men
Regardless of gender, anyone can be affected by mental health issues. However, fewer men are still seeking therapy; let’s examine why this is the case.
It is a fact that men experience the same challenges as women, including anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and trauma. However, these issues can present differently for men. For example, depression may show as anger due to men tending to suppress emotions. Suppressed emotions contribute to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
Physical issues, such as headaches, digestive problems, and muscle tension, can also result from suppressed emotions. A 2019 study concludes that concealing one’s emotions can hinder mental health, physical health and general well-being.
I recently worked with a client who contacted me due to struggling with social anxiety and low self-esteem. We worked together for six weeks, and at the end of this time, the client left therapy knowing their worth which changed everything for them.
The client opted for an RTT hypnotherapy session; during regression, they returned to an incident that occurred at school when they were aged 8. They spoke about a time they could not answer a question in front of the class; they felt shamed and humiliated before their teacher and peers. The incident left the client feeling profoundly embarrassed and feeling like a failure. After the session, the client spoke about vaguely remembering the incident and feeling embarrassed whenever they thought about it. However, they did not recognise that what they experienced then deeply continued to influence how they felt about themselves today, which was that they were not good enough.
Working through the emotions associated with this experience and reframing outdated beliefs was life-transforming for this client.
It is not unusual for men to mask the symptoms of depression as they will take an “I just need to get on with it” approach. However, this can encourage unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking alcohol, substance misuse, pornography addiction, or gambling.
When these unhelpful coping strategies become “the problem”, men will recognise they need help, and at this point, their mental health may have declined significantly.
Statistics demonstrate that men’s mental health is something that requires more attention.
- The Office of National Statistics (ONS) 2021 states that 74% of death by suicide cases are men.
- In England and Wales, suicide is the most significant cause of death for men under 50.
- The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) 2020, men of all ages are likelier to become alcohol dependent than women.
- Men are more likely to be experiencing homelessness and be rough sleepers, and at the end of 2022, 96.2% of all prisoners were men.
- NHS England’s Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) states that in 2019/20 it recorded 65% of women, compared to 35% of men, were referred to psychological services.
These statistics highlight the need to change society’s perception of men seeking therapy.
Why Some Men Struggle to Seek Help: Understanding the Barriers
Let’s consider WHY some men find it difficult to seek therapy.
- Societal Gender Norms
Society has thoughts about how men should be – “strong, self-reliant, assertive, powerful”. These expectations can make it more challenging for men to reach out for support and instead mask or suppress any symptoms that suggest they are not coping.
If a man has adopted unhealthy coping strategies, there may be guilt, shame, or self-disgust, making sharing this with another person even more difficult. However, reaching out for help is a sign of strength and courage, and in therapy, you can learn how to work through any shame attached to what is going on for you.
One significant roadblock that prevents men from seeking therapy is the stigma around mental health issues. As a society, we have the power to change this. It takes courage, but only when men talk about their mental health and talk about reaching out for therapy or other support will it become normalised. After all, you go to the gym to work on your physical health; working on your mental health is the same!
- Fear of Vulnerability
What would it look like to reveal a side of yourself that isn’t always confident, courageous, and strong? Vulnerability is sharing your thoughts, emotions, feelings, and experiences with another person. It is like removing your armour and allowing another person to see your authentic self, your softer side. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with those closest to you can deepen and strengthen relationships.
- Finding a Therapist
The gender of a therapist is not important; you must find a therapist you feel safe and comfortable with. I work with many men in my therapy practice, and I recommend that you check if a therapist is comfortable working with male-related issues.
Let's Now Discuss the Advantages of Therapy
- Helpful Ways to Manage Your Mental Health
Therapy offers men a safe space to openly discuss their concerns and express themselves freely without fear of rejection.
In therapy, men can learn how to practice healthy coping strategies such as emotional regulation, meditation, grounding exercises, journalling, assertive communication, and implementing boundaries.
A therapist allows men the space to manage past issues that may impact their lives today.
Alternatively, some men prefer to focus on what is happening for them in the here and now rather than revisit past experiences. What you would like to gain from therapy is something you can talk through during a discovery call as you want to ensure that a therapist works in a way that you will find most helpful.
- Being a Good Example
By going to therapy, you convey to others, including your friends and family, that taking care of your mental health is FINE.
Being open and honest about seeking help could inspire others to adopt your outlook and encourage the growth of a society where discussing emotions can be done more freely.
- Strengthening Relationships
Effectively managing emotions can help build healthy and fulfilling relationships.
People tend to have closer relationships with their loved ones, members of their families, and close friends when they are aware of their own emotions and can empathise with others.
- Improves Job Performance
The workplace is known to be a place that can be challenging when one is already struggling with their mental health. Therapy can help reduce work-related stress and anxiety, improve job performance, and it can help with enhancing communication and teamwork skills.
When To Seek Therapy
If you have any of the following symptoms, it may be a good idea to consider therapy:
● Been more easily irritated than usual.
● Experienced bursts of anger or aggression.
● Felt sad or down.
● Felt overwhelmed or under much pressure.
● Unexpectedly gained or lost weight.
● Started drinking or using drugs more frequently than before.
● Been relying on alcohol or drugs to cope with a challenging situation.
● Lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.
● Struggled to concentrate at work, school, or home.
● Had more headaches or days of feeling generally unwell.
● Sleeping too much or too little.
● Felt tired even after a whole night’s sleep.
There’s no reason to feel ashamed of your symptoms; you’re never alone. Many men believe discussing their difficulties won’t help, but this is untrue.
If you would like to arrange a free discovery call, please get in touch!