Speaking Up About Men’s Mental Health

Good mental health is important to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life. Unfortunately, mental illness is stigmatized despite being common and treatable.  Mental health challenges effects people of all ages and backgrounds. However statistics demonstrate men are more likely than women to have substance abuse issues and to die by suicide. This suggests that men are either underserved or underutilizing the mental health resources available to them.Josh Schubart of HBO’s High Maintenance

Experts speculate that men are less likely than women to seek help for their mental health concerns because of shame or stigma. However, Josh Schubart, a NYC based actor who most recently can be seen as Frank on Amazon’s The Tick has been generous in sharing his own mental health healing journey with depression both on his personal blog and with Barber Surgeon’s Guild Dispatch.

“Thankfully, I’ve developed the awareness to know when I am going through some of my usual nonsense. You know: the self doubt, negative self talk, second guessing choices, and just a general haze of perceived professional failure that can transmute into depression. This of course, is all bullshit, but from time to time Bizzaro Josh shows up and starts screaming pain gibberish at me.” – Josh Schubart

How can men begin to obtain assistance with their own mental health, and make themselves available to help others?

Go to a mental health first aid training.

Similar to how First Aid training allows a person to assist in common physical health emergencies, you can be mental Health First Aid trained to assist when others are in a mental health crisis. This training will help you assist competently when you encounter someone in a common mental health crisis. Free training is available in many states. In addition to building non-judgmental listening skills, you will learn how to start difficult conversations and guide people to the appropriate professional help should they start to display symptoms of common mental health ailments such as anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation.

If you are interested in mental health first aid training: click here.

Delegate to professional help.

A variety of professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other therapists offer assistance for those with mental health concerns.

-Hypnosis will sometimes be recommended as part of therapy.  While more commonly associated with success in quitting smoking, there are examples where hypnosis has helped instill coping mechanisms for people suffering from anxiety and depression.

-Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is increasingly incorporated into therapy for a variety of mental health concerns. CBT requires active participation.  Through identifying cycles of thought and action that are counterproductive, you can address them and work to build healthier patterns. This can improve mood, behaviors, emotions, and perhaps even your situation.

“I went through 9 years of CBT. It teaches you how to set goals and logical tools to talk to an illogical brain and help it move forward in a positive way. I wouldn’t say it helped me book a specific role, but it did a lot to help me become a more complete human. With High Maintenance, I was just brutally honest about my past for the first time in an audition and that helped me get cast.” – Josh Schubart 

It starts with you.

Acknowledge the space you create. Be mindful of your word choice. Casually using words like “crazy” or “neat freak” do not create a welcoming space for others to share their current state or healing process. Practice nonjudgmental listening whenever possible. Remember that your own safety is first and foremost, and if you feel you need to remove yourself from a situation in an act of self-care absolutely do so.

Recognize your own thought patterns, traumas, substance misuse- and choose to break the cycle. Mental health issues are health issues first and foremost; there is no shame associated with seeking professional help.

“Remember, everyone’s journey is their own. It will travel down it’s own unique set of twists and turns, pitfalls, and triumphs. What makes it so special is that it belongs to you and no one else. So enjoy the damn thing!” – Josh Schubart

If you have a mental health healing journey you’d like to share, or perhaps even a selfie of you and your Mental Health First Aid Certification, be sure to tag @bsgdispatch, @Josh_Schubart, and #bsgadvocacyformensmentalhealth to share your hard earned wisdom with our growing online community of goal-oriented men such as yourself.

For more information about mental health issues affecting men as well as prevention hotline numbers, you can check out http://nami.org; and http://mantherapy.org/about .