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Your Healthy Family: Why can it be more difficult for men to seek mental health care?

Posted at 2:00 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 16:00:15-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family as part of Mental Health Awareness Month we're continuing our conversation with Dr. Justin Ross, the director of workplace well-being for UCHealth.

There can be a few barriers when it comes to accessing mental health care, and statistically speaking when it comes to men our biggest challenge seems to be our own reluctance to reach out for help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2020 while 24.7% of women had some form of mental health treatment only 13.4% of men did.

Dr. Ross says, “We know in general - and it’s a big generalization that men are really great at internalizing what we go through and not opening up or not sharing and not seeking help or support when we may be experiencing something. The starting point, in my opinion, is recognizing that what we experience as men is completely normal and human. Things like anxiety, stress and sadness or feelings of being burned out and relationship struggles. These are experiences that we all have. Being able to relate and validate those experiences with someone who might understand and get it, is really the starting point for getting help.”

So men, if you're not comfortable talking about things with close friends, how can you recognize for yourself that reaching out for professional help is a good idea?

Dr. Ross says, “I think the first part is when you think about self reflection, if you're running into this awareness in yourself, that you're just feeling something that's intense and you can't recover back to your baseline, or you feel off. If you feel like the inner struggle is starting to impact you in the way that you're thinking, feeling, and relating to other people and the way you go about your daily business at home, in your personal life and at work - those are probably signs to think about - maybe it would help to talk to somebody.”

And if you want to help a friend who you think is struggling Dr. Ross says don't just cut to the chase and jump in with telling them, ‘I think you need to see a therapist.' "Keep it as a collaborative open dialogue, rather than saying ‘Go to therapy.’ It can feel really dismissive. Start by providing support and validation like, ‘Hey man what's going on? I've known you for a long time and it seems like something might be getting to you.’ The first thing we need to do is not try to problem solve. Don't try to make it better and don't try to take it away. Don't try to dismiss their feelings. Just provide validation by asking and then provide support by listening, really listening.”

If your struggling with mental health there are a lot of mental health options out there, and in a coming story we’ll talk about some of those with Dr. Ross. You can also Click (HERE) https://www.uchealth.org/services/behavioral-health/ to learn more about the mental health resources UCHealth offers.

UCHealth is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family