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By KAYLIN THOMPSON MA, LPC – who works at MCHH’s Oak Brook and Lombard Office

It is crucial that we take a step back and pause to reflect on where men can receive more support for their mental health. Research shows us that 1 in 10 men experience anxiety or depression but less than will acquire adequate treatment (Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2024). The National Center for Health Statistics revealed that only seven percent of men 18 and older received mental health counseling in 2019 although millions of men go through mental health issues every year in the United States. Men are less likely to seek professional help for mental illnesses, yet men are more likely to die by suicide in America. Due to factors such as stigma, cultural norms and expectations of masculinity, and lack of awareness of signs and symptoms in men, these barriers can make it even more challenging for men to receive the help they need and deserve.

Being aware of the signs that you or someone you love may be experiencing mental illness is the first step to getting treatment. The National Institute of Mental Health (2024) shares that men and women often share similar symptoms in mental disorders, but some men may exhibit common symptoms such as:

-Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
-Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite
-Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
-Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge
-Increased worry or stress
-Use of substances or unhealthy behaviors to cope with emotions
-Continued feelings of sadness or hopelessness
-Difficulty regulating emotions or communicating feelings in healthy manner
-Feeling flat or having trouble experiencing positive emotions
-Engaging in high-risk, dangerous activities
-Financial, marital, or work stressors
-Aches, headaches, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause
-Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
-Memories or flashbacks of traumatic events
-Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life
-Thoughts of death or suicide or suicide attempts

A helpful place to start if you or a loved one can identify with any of these signs or symptoms is with a therapist. While there is unfortunately still stigma in the United States for men to receive mental health counseling, it is important to not let fear hold men back for treatment that would improve their lives and reduce harmful symptoms. Many men can feel as if asking for help is a sign of weakness or diminished masculinity (Mayo Clinic, 2017). Ultimately, getting the help men need allows and equips them to be better husbands, fathers, employees, brothers, and friends.

Therapy can help men to process complex emotions, manage anger, cope with stress, challenge negative thinking, learn helpful communication tools, discover parenting skills, utilize healthy coping skills, and overcome past trauma (American Psychological Association, 2005). In counseling, a therapist will help you establish goals for treatment and create a strategy to meet them. Men do not have to face these issues alone. A therapist will walk alongside you or your loved one in meeting goals to grant a more healthy, meaningful life.