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  • C. Mead L.C.S.W., L.C.P.C.

Why men won't "do therapy".


Despite some significant generational differences, I think it might be a fair statement to say that men as a group are under-utilizers of mental health or counseling services for let's be honest a variety of reasons some fair and others not so much. I think we can agree that only a fractional percentage of people that need counseling help actually get it and as a consequence people may struggle longer than they need to or possibly don't recover at all. The result is perhaps most obviously seen with men who are number one in some really unhealthy areas such as completed suicides, domestic violence and violent crime perpetrators, and substance abuse and addictions service recipients. **

One pretty big not so fair reason guys avoid therapy is this persistent stigma of mental health combined with our historical misogynist belief system which creates a rather bizarre reality distortion. We’ve reached a place where it's perfectly normal to see a doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist for back, elbow, or foot pain, but to need help with the pain of stress, anxiety, or depression is a "weakness" from which some would be too embarrassed to ask and certainly wouldn't want their friends to know about. Nothing wrong with being proud of our strength and independence as men but, a whole bunch of us guys needlessly suffer because they feel they “should” be able to handle matters themselves without making a big deal about it or certainly declaring a need that might require something as significant as going to weekly counseling. Where else in healthcare is the care similarly delegitimized, considered a “sign of weakness”, or only for a certain gender?

One fair gripe about seeing a counselor for a lot of guys has been concern about making a pretty serious time commitment every week to travel to a therapy office, have a session for an hour and return to work or home for weeks or months. Fair enough but, now we have a travel-time-free platform that works a whole lot better than you might think. I admit I too was very skeptical of Telehealth and had dismissed the idea pre-COVID due to the complexity, liability, and simply the thought of being on video, to be honest. But, now after having been pushed into it, I really like it despite its limitations for some people. It's actually much easier for everyone and changes the dynamic in some interesting ways.

Another legitimate concern men have may be a shocker….quite a few guys are uncomfortable talking about their feelings, and doing it in a room with someone else is more anxiety-inducing than they wish to consider. But, doing Telehealth counseling on video offers a bit of a barrier or separation that some people feel more comfortable with perhaps because we're not in the same space. Plus you're on your own turf and in a presumably more comfortable environment, not to mention you always have the option to literally disconnect much easier

Guys, you may be able to come up with a lot of reasons not to "do therapy" but many of those very practical reasons are now eliminated with Telehealth which is basically a video house-call. You can't get any more convenient or private than a counselor coming to see you on your own couch. I think this is the future and honestly, you're already doing this with work, online gaming, fantasy football, and Skype/Zoom calls. There is no travel time, awkward waiting room to navigate, or concern about being "seen". You are no longer restricted to your immediate geographical location but can choose from counselors located anywhere in your state providing vastly more options. With a free video consultation, you have to option to try it out and decide. We’re all spending more time at home, why not use this great opportunity to invest some of that time in your mental and emotional health.

** References

https://afsp.org/suicide-statistics/

https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cpus1718.pdf

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/substance-use-in-women/sex-gender-differences-in-substance-use