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We Need to Talk About (Men)tal Health

We Need to Talk About (Men)tal Health

June is Men’s Health Month and we’re kicking it off by sharing some resources on how to engage your patients around their mental health.

One poll found 77 percent of men reported feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. Six million men nationwide are depressed. Men are four times more likely than women to commit suicide. And although women are diagnosed with depression at twice the rate as men, one study found that men are a staggering 70 percent less likely to seek treatment for mental health.

As Dr. Matt Englar-Carlson points out, “Male depression is typically masked. The man will suffer in silence and say, ‘I’m fine.’”

In one survey, 22 percent of male respondents indicated they wouldn’t feel comfortable discussing their mental health with their general physician. Why? They were worried about “wasting their doctor’s time.”

What can we do to change this?

When patients first reveal these feelings, psychotherapist Dr. Will Courtenay suggests doctors ask, “‘Where do you want to start?’ It immediately enlists the man’s involvement and … collaborative treatment with active patient involvement is associated with improved outcomes and treatment adherence.”

Since every patient is unique, here is a diverse array of resources you can share to kickstart a conversation:

  • Man Therapy — Imagine Parks & Rec’s macho, hirsute Ron Swanson as a psychiatrist. The humorous tone is disarming, while the advice is practical and diverse. Visitors will find tips on journaling, a crisis hotline, a mood-tracking mobile app, and inspiring testimonials from other men.
  • Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance — DBSA holds support groups in cities nationwide. The informal talk-therapy sessions foster solidarity and the relaxed tone is perfect for patients who aren’t ready for psychiatric care.
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness — NAMI conducts programs led by trained volunteers to educate both those with mental illness as well as family members. This organization also holds specialized programs for families of veterans, teachers, ESL-speakers, and many more.
  • Stay up to date on regional mental health services. For example, Virginia offers low-income, uninsured Medicaid recipients counseling, medication, a 24-hour crisis line, and case management services through its Governor’s Access Plan. Organizations such as Austin-based Integral Care provides “first aid” seminars to train individuals and families how to manage their mental health.
  • As mental illness is often, especially in men, comorbid with substance abuse, Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are great resources to help patients find solidarity and actionable tenets to aid their recovery and improve their mental health.
  • There are several online resources, such as Depression Forums and Reddit threads, along with mobile apps that have been reviewed and rated by the Anxiety and Depression and Association of America.

Now that we’ve started the conversation, let’s keep it going. Be sure to check out more inforMD content to learn how to level-up your communication skills with male patients, take a deep-dive into the Loneliness Epidemic, and much more!

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