Dr. Jude Black
Men, Depression, Suicide, & Stigma
So we spoke to certified Martha Beck life coach, educator and author of Lee & Me: What I Learned from Parenting a Child with Adverse Childhood Experiences Wendy Gauntner about the struggles men face when challenged with mental wellness.
Through her research and life experience, she knows that men are also affected by chronic stress. However, men often show their depression, anxiety, and feelings of being overwhelmed differently. For that reason, she has honed her expertise when working with and supporting men to integrate gender consideration and encourage a positive outcome. She is a passionate change catalyst focused on calming the waters, opening the sails, and living fully right now.
Read on to hear Wendy's perspective and advice......
Recently, a male client hired me to help him accomplish an admirable list of goals. He also asked me to check in with him weekly and hold him accountable for his progress. Trust me, I can’t make anyone do anything!
As we talked, it became clear that my client really wanted help dealing with issues that had no bearing on accomplishing his perceived goals. What really concerned him was not his list, but his inability to tackle it. What emerged as we talked were pressing issues in his life causing fatigue, overwhelm, health issues and a complete lack of desire to do anything.
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Depression in men is expressed differently than it is in women. It is marked by apathy, sleep disruption, irritability, anger, somatization (backaches, stomach aches) and other symptoms often seem as typical male characteristics. While the stigma of depression exists, it is often not a consideration for men until it becomes overwhelming and affects their ability to function.
The truth is men are experiencing all kinds of stressors that can lead to depression. Cultural norms, family constructs and perceived expectation of success in a rapidly changing society all have an impact on the mental health of our men. Research shows us that without ways to deal with stress and trauma, those experiences live in our bodies causing diseases, anxiety and depression.
Few men during their lifetime come anywhere near exhausting their resources dwelling within them. There are deep wells of strength that are never used.
-Richard Evelyn Byrd
What can we do to help men open up despite the stigma maintained in our society?
Educate men and their families on the symptoms of depression and the important of seeking support. Chronic irritability, anger, sleep disruption along with body aches and pains should not be seen as separate issues to be handled or excused.
Create a safe environment in which to be vulnerable and honest. This is why a life coach or therapist can be so helpful to someone who is currently struggling. A confidential and trained professional can validate feelings and conquer overwhelm in a safe environment using tools designed to help people explore their situation. Often, finding a safe outlet for feelings can be beneficial and highly effective.
Teach mindfulness skills to reduce stress that help individuals notice thoughts and feelings that have an impact on one’s body and mind.
If you are worried about a partner or colleague, just taking a walk or doing something together can prompt a meaningful discussion. As a confidante, asking questions and listening for emotion, not just for words, can lead to deeper understanding and validation.
Validate that men are under pressure in contemporary society. It is not insignificant to note that the historical structure of our jobs and lives are slowly shifting away from stability. The mental health of men is the cornerstone of a healthy society, which may be currently at risk as the unspoken expectations of being bread winners, protectors and status earners becomes more and more difficult to achieve given current paradigms.
Encourage men to seek the support of an expert Licensed Professional to explore their concerns, develop an action-based plan, and move forward.
About the Author: Wendy Gauntner is a certified Martha Beck Life Coach for E-Therapy Café. She is also a writer and author of Lee & Me: What I Learned from Parenting a Child with Adverse Childhood Experiences based out of Wyoming. Wendy is E-Therapy Café’s Strategic Partner and Life Barista Partner.
E-Therapy Café™ is a people-focused, innovative online counseling and coaching platform for individuals, couples, families and corporations. The mission is to provide professional, convenient, and affordable, modern online therapy – anytime, anywhere for everyone. The Boutique Team of Licensed Therapists and Certified Life Coaches are passionate change catalyst, focused on realistic goals in today’s fast-paced world. The headquarters is in Northern VA with a nationwide and global reach.