Why are men still hesitant to seek out therapy? As a therapist, I think about this question all of the time. The stigma of “men being men” remains and there is an expectation that the masculine thing to do is to not show your emotions. Maybe not as much as generations past, but it’s still hardwired in so many of us and it’s keeping men from reaching out when they need help.
Many of us come from cultures of toxic masculinity where young boys are told things like “boys don’t cry” or “man up and don’t be a sissy” when showing any hint of vulnerability. In reality, it takes a tremendous amount of strength to face one’s emotions instead of suppressing them. History tells us that denying our struggles can lead to things like addiction, violence, or even suicide.
Getting honest about our emotions
Taking control of your mental health is no easy task. Trust me, I get it. The stigma is so deeply ingrained in us men that we sometimes believe we are not allowed to be depressed, anxious, or sad. But these feelings are part of the human experience and we must make space for them.
I’ve worked with many men in a therapeutic setting that still question whether they are “man enough” for the world or if being in therapy makes them weak. I always tell them the same thing: Being connected to our emotions has the power to positively impact every aspect of our lives. Getting honest with ourselves about the state of our mental health can improve our relationships, and it can help us to lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
Ways to eliminate the stigma
What can you do to change this damaging narrative surrounding men and their need to be strong all of the time?
- Pass this article along to someone in your life who could benefit from support or reach out if you need support yourself.
- Show those around you that the strongest thing you can do is to ask for help when you need it, whether it be from a friend, a family member, or a mental health professional.
- Teach young people in your life that prioritizing their mental health is a sign of strength, not weakness.
- Go on a journey with Sanvello to take a step towards feeling better.
If you reach out for support, it will not make you less of a man, I promise you. It will help you navigate the storms that we all go through in life, and this time you’ll have help along the way. You’re not alone in this and we’re here for you.
By Giacomo Lucchetti, LCSW
Giacomo is a clinical social worker, providing psychotherapy and social services to people of all ages. When he’s not seeing clients, he enjoys watching history documentaries, keeping up with the latest technology, and spending time with his family and three rescue dogs.