Reframing the stigma around men and mental health
MANY MEN OVERLOOK THE IMPORTANCE OF THEIR OWN MENTAL HEALTH, and also experience barriers to pursuing resources such as talk therapy. There are many factors at play, but some of the reluctance has to do with the way men are broadly cultured to hide their vulnerability, dampen their emotional sensitivity, and maintain an aura of strength or toughness. Men are deeply reinforced to avoid appearing weak, and are thus less likely to pursue resources like therapy that could symbolize that they “don’t have it all together.” This is an unfortunate trend because men face mental health pressures all the time, even if they are not consciously in touch with them. Whereas there will likely be some men who will never consider therapy for any reason, I would like to extend an invitation to those men who are “on the fence” and offer one way of looking at therapy that might reframe what you think you know about Item.
First of all, therapy or therapeutic coaching is not always about “fixing what’s broken.” It can also be about enhancing what you’re already good at so you can be even more effective in all of your settings. Men might not have a problem going to a coach or personal fitness trainer when pursuing a goal such as losing weight, improving their golf game, or even learning how to properly invest your retirement savings. It makes sense that you would seek out a trained expert if you want to improve something about yourself or your abilities. I find it is much more useful to consider therapy in the same way. You might not be depressed, anxious, or having other significant mental health difficulties, per se. But you might be interested in increasing your productivity at work, improving your parenting abilities, or increasing your ability to be an effective, assertive communicator at home or work. As you begin to examine these areas you want to refine, you might come into greater awareness of yourself, your behavioral patterns, and your relationship cycles that help you improve in ways you never even considered before. For instance, you might want to improve your ability to communicate with your spouse and end up discovering that many of your work relationships benefit from the new communication skill sets you learn through therapeutic coaching.
Men and mental health: Identifying issues and finding solutions
Much as a hired coach instructs, guides, and challenges you to make you better, a good therapist can help refine your effectiveness by using your existing strengths to help shore up the things you want to improve. Just as a coach would see your golf swing from an outside perspective, a therapist will often be able to more objectively notice things about you, your habits and even personality patterns that can be very helpful to your growth process. Although many men might be open to discussing personal or emotionally charged topics with a therapist, the therapeutic process doesn’t always have to involve getting bogged down in emotional lingo. Therapy can also be about isolating inefficiencies in your approach to life, work, family, or relationships, and then learning concrete techniques to maximize your performance on each front.
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Having a solid variety of effective, efficient, and easy-to-implement tools can help you tackle any challenge that comes your way. In an increasingly competitive world, it is crucial to understand how you can improve yourself to keep pace with – or even lead – the pack. I believe this is something many men would benefit from and therapy or therapeutic coaching sessions can help you optimize yourself to achieve your desired goals. Once you have the knowledge you need, you will have gained an edge that can not only improve your overall effectiveness in your various roles but also increase your confidence as well. Doing better, and KNOWING that you’re doing better can help you continue to progress in your life and career.
Although there are still significant barriers to men seeking mental health support, I hope this reframe could offer an alternative view of what men could gain from therapy. Men who want to be successful across the important areas of their lives will benefit from enhancing awareness around their own mental health, effectiveness, and balance. It never hurts to learn a few skills and techniques along the way that could grow you to your best and most effective self. Optimal mental health helps promote optimal performance across your life. The take-home message is that, despite what you might have heard, real men can go to therapy, real men can grow in therapy, and real men can get optimized through therapy.
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