There's a suffocating stigma against men who manage depression.
It's time to stand up and start the conversation no one is having.
image via shutterstock
Suffering in Silence
Recently, a good friend of mine confided in me that they felt a little depressed. Being certified in Mental Health First Aid, I thought I knew exactly how to help them. When I suggested things like counseling, therapy, or medication, they would sort of shake their head or make a face, implying they weren't interested or didn't need anything like that.
I wondered, "Why wouldn't my friend take action immediately to start feeling better? I have all these reliable options for treatment!" It bugged me. My argument was solid, guys.
Then, it dawned on me. My friend is a guy.
In my humble experience, most guys avoid talking about their feelings or sentimental notions at all costs. This makes them fantastically focused businessmen, but not so great at managing overly-emotive situations.
When it clicked that my friend's gender might have something to do with his reluctance, I knew the Internet would have the answer. Searching specifically for "Men's Depression," I discovered a resource for men just like him, and it's a gold mine. HeadsUpGuys is a place for men to talk about depression, without fear of that nagging, however ridiculous, social stigma.
Searching For Support
With my guy friend in mind, I started on the HeadsUpGuys home page.
image via HeadsUpGuys
This sincere portrait and phrase immediately grabbed my attention, causing a deep sadness for the all men who may be depressed, but don't know where to start to get better. This feeling was immediately followed by overwhelming gratitude to the founders of HeadsUpGuys for their open and honest approach to helping guys get back on their feet.
After a few days, and a bit of research, I checked back in with my guy friend, and he seemed to be doing worse than ever. When I suggested that he think about talking to someone about what he was feeling, he continued to shrug it off, as if it wasn't a big deal. When pressed, he explained to me that he'd been depressed before and thought it was just something he had to get through on his own.
This did not surprise me, altogether. Though I thought he needed it, I knew there was nothing I could say or do to convince him to get help for what he was struggling with. I suggested he look up HeadsUpGuys, and received a very non-committal answer. But everyone must figure out how to deal with depression the way that works best for them. The killer part was knowing there are countless others who won't reach out reach out, much like my friend.
Stifling The Stigma
Millions of men suffer from depression, and the fact that three times the number of men, compared to women, commit suicide, makes depression in men an often overlooked, yet incredibly serious condition.
This caused me to wonder, "What makes it so difficult for men to reach out?" It seems in large part due to the stigma against depression, the absence of knowledge surrounding the illness, and the typical stressors brought on by male stereotypes. This makes HeadsUpGuys an even more important place for men to learn about the disease, as well as coping skills and options for management.
In the interest of privacy, HeadsUpGuys also offers an anonymous way for anyone to find out if they are dealing with a serious issue, or just experiencing a little bit of the blues. Their comprehensive self-check asks 12 questions surrounding what and how an individual thinks, along with assessing their behavior and self-care practices.
Ultimately, every person is responsible for their own good mental health. The problem lies with not knowing where to start to improve your mood and thinking. A remarkable resource for men and women alike, HeadsUpGuys is breaking down barriers and starting the conversation that needs discussing:
Guys get depressed, too. Let's take care of the ones in our lives.
If you, or a guy you know, wants to learn more about dealing with depression in men, go to headsupguys.ca for practical tips and video interviews of real guys sharing their experiences with depression and inspirational stories.