Percentage of men seeking mental health help is on the rise

Although news about mental can often be negative, there are some positive trends in the current landscape of mental health services for men.

Over the last 20 years (2002 – 2022) the percentage of men seeking mental health treatment options doubled from 8% to 16%. While it is still more likely for females to seek counseling than males the data shows that the stigma around mental health could be changing for men.

There are many potential reasons why men have historically avoided seeking help for mental health concerns, including unhealthy views of masculinity, fear, and lack of provider options in some areas.

“There are times the culture has told men that needing or asking for help is a sign of weakness,” said Jim Paulus, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Men often feel to be good husbands and fathers, they need to keep control of all the things in their lives, without the help of others.

In her work at Praire View, Inc. Allyson Krehbiel, LSCSW, LCAC has seen similar trends.

“I think many men are driven by duty and responsibility, and this idea that they need to be strong, both emotionally and physically, can prevent them from even realizing they need help—let alone seeking help out,” said Krehbiel.

Thankfully, more males are willing to seek help when needed.

“It has been encouraging to see more males willing to ignore these messages and take the courageous step to ask for help,” said Paulus.

The American Psychological Association recently released guidelines for counselors and therapists on working with men regarding issues related to being a husband, father and career. This was the first time the counseling field acknowledged the need to improve its care of men.

Krehbiel makes a helpful distinction between being “smart” vs. being “strong.”

“In my work with clients that struggle with addiction, we talk about this idea of, ‘being smart not strong’. We focus on making smart, helpful and healthy choices as opposed to relying merely on willpower. I think the idea of being smart, not strong, can help men shift their mindset; that asking for help is a smart, productive choice as opposed to toughing it out,” she said.

Another trend in healthcare since COVID that has increased access is the increase in telehealth, which has allowed for more access for men and women.

Blake Buhrman, LCMFT and owner of Central Kansas Counseling, highlights the increase in access in the last couple of years.

“Central Kansas Counseling didn’t utilize telehealth prior to 2020. Part of that was capacity for us and also preference for seeing clients in person. COVID forced our hand and instantly changed the landscape of behavioral health. Telehealth has increased accessibility to behavioral healthcare for many people. Specifically, those in more rural settings now have more options as they can look for telehealth providers anywhere in the state. Additionally, telehealth has created more consistency in treatment. People can still attend a session even if something unexpected occurs, like a sick child at home or car trouble. Our practice has been able to serve clients in all areas of Kansas over the last four years. While our primary modality is still in-person sessions, we are using telehealth daily to help clients reach their goals,” said Buhrman.

There is still a way to go. There are still many men who suffer and need assistance. The suicide rate for men is still three times that of women.

The hope is that the recent trends will continue and more people will access available care when needed. As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s encourage each other to make mental health a priority.

Anyone contemplating suicide or experiencing emotional distress may call, text or chat the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to speak with a trained counselor who can provide support and connect them to local resources if necessary. Like the 911 emergency service, the number is staffed 24/7 nationwide, with a network of over 200 state and local crisis call centers. Those in Marion County can also contact the Central Kansas Counseling Center at 620-869-9986 or schedule online at centralkansascounseling.com. To schedule with Prairie View, Inc or for more information, call (800) 992-6292 or visit their website at prarieview.org.

 

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