Men will experience relationship breakdown, loss of jobs and homelessness before they seek support.
The number of male suicides is still ridiculously high. In 2014 here in Australia there were 7.8 suicides each day. Approximately ¾ of these deaths were men ( source – ABS 2016).
There are many complex and quite specific obstacles for men to overcome in order to accept the need for professional help.
Many guys believe talking about problems is women’s business. Some men think, somewhat unfairly, that talking at all is women’s business!
In general women are better at seeking help than men. Sadly, when major problems arise men leave themselves high and dry when it comes to coping with the stresses and strains of life.
Some blokes reckon if they open up they will lose control over their life.
The fear is that opening the ‘flood gates’ to thoughts and feelings will result in a breakdown. This can be enough to stop men in their tracks from seeking out support.
“She’ll be right mate’ is a common expression amongst men. It means that whatever is wrong will right itself over time and is a term that describes something or a situation that’s not perfect but is good enough.
It’s a powerful response that clearly works in many contexts and allows us to not get too caught up.
However it tends to become a way of avoiding persistent relationship, emotional or physical health problems.
Most guys are good problem solvers. Fixing stuff is where men are most comfortable and for some it’s the only way to get on in life.
The challenges associated with emotional expression, communication and behaviours are not easily fixable.
This is why some guys avoid, deny or deflect as a way to cope with what appears unfixable.
Being strong, successful and stoic are still messages boys and men receive from our culture, media, peers and parents.
Men are taught to wear a mask of success and macho bravado. This mask hides their inner struggle.
The idea of counselling often taps in to the notion of failure for men which exacerbates shame and embarrassment.
Lots of blokes hold great significance in how they are perceived by others, particularly other men.
Projecting an image of strength and power are qualities men fight for and will do what they can to protect this image.
Counselling is a major threat to this image.
Change often means letting go of something, somebody or some aspects of ourselves.
There is an unknown aspect to change that evokes fear in all of us from time to time.
Blokes who fear change, or more specifically fear the unknown prevent themselves from exploring possibilities.
Fear is not an emotion most men have a good relationship with.
Men have emotional needs. We feel anger, sadness, fear, anxiety and shame. Sadly, too many guys continue to silence these feeling.
Counselling is becoming a more mainstream and acceptable way of seeking help.
The profession itself is still very female centric and the continuing challenge is promoting counselling as a legitimate space for men.
There are many successful stories of men who go through counselling. They are essentially confidential and private and the success of therapy depends on this.
Yet, shining a light on counselling conversations with men may dispel some of the myths that men hold about seeking out help.