BRISBANE-BASED Great Men Consultancy founder Grace Stewart used the recent World Mental Health Day to emphasise to business leaders that a greater awareness of men’s mental health – in the workplace and beyond – could help save many lives.
Ms Stewart called for a greater awareness of depression and psychological issues amongst men and boys – and encouraged men to speak out and get help if experiencing serious low points in their lives. She said there was no better place to highlight this issue than the workplace.
“When you’re busy and tired and perhaps focussing on significant changes in relationships and lifestyle, sleep deprivation and work or even school or sporting demands can all impact on male mental health, the ability to think clearly, manage emotions and think logically,” Ms Stewart said.
“We need to reduce stigma around men’s mental illness, create more openness and empathy in discussing mental health concerns for males who tend to use counselling services less often than women, due to a number of issues including the stigma attached to their illness, the discrimination they experience because of it and the lack of opportunity they face because of these issues.”
According to the Mental Health Council of Australia, 70 percent of people suffering from mental health conditions do not seek medical help. This is where social acceptance and support is a big part of the treatment process.
Ms Stewart and her collagues emphasized that everyone could participate in mental health awareness every day. Education is the number one key.
“Men experience depression probably just as much as women, but resist treatment in the belief that depression is a woman’s disease,” Ms Stewart said.
“Males often have the misconception that depression is a ‘feeling’ and men don’t talk about ‘feelings’. Depressed men often get angry at others, are less likely to seek help and often turn to abuse with alcohol or drugs.
“Depressed women, on the other hand, may blame themselves, but then they ask their doctor for help,” she said.
Great Men Consultancy research has identified that ‘stigma’ is a significant source of suffering for many people with mental health concerns, according to Ms Stewart. Fathers with a mental illness can be subject to unique forms of stigma which can influence their perceptions and experiences in a number of ways.
Depression is a leading cause of disability so many men cannot work. Depression also puts men at a high risk for suicide. They are four times more likely to take their lives than women.
“As experts in the field of men’s help-seeking, we can’t stress enough the need for males to seek help early when they are not coping, we are here for men and boys when they’re at their most vulnerable with life-stresses, alcohol and substance use,” Ms Stewart said.
Our sessions seek to expand personal insight and develop personal responsibility, the key ingredients to personal success.”
When husbands have depression and/or anxiety, it can tear apart marriage and family. Wives may take over and hope the problem will go away, or at the opposite end, withdraw – feeling betrayed and angry.
Ms Stewart said, more often, they alternate back and forth between these behaviours and emotions. About 50 percent of wives caring for a depressed husband will develop depression themselves.
“We want people to know that whatever their circumstances, there is no stigma to seeking help, you are not alone,” Ms Stewart said. “Most of us go through some difficult times in our lives. Depression is one of the most common reasons people seek therapy, and the condition is highly treatable.
“Unfortunately, though, stigma surrounding depression inhibits many people from seeking treatment. Because an individual with depression may view themselves as flawed or weak, that person is likely to feel shame regarding his condition, and he may fear the consequences of disclosing the experience to employers, health care providers, family, and friends,” Ms Stewart said.
Great Men Consultancy teams focus on seeing men supported men through life; navigating topics such as relationships, parenting, substance misuse, career advancement, mental health and wellbeing.
“One of the main strategies is to work closely with the people close to you: your partner, children, parents and friends as we recognise their role in creating a positive and purposeful life,” she said.
Great Men Consultancy is a Brisbane-based professional counselling and support service for men and their families to help ensure they maintain a healthy and positive life. Backed by 25 years’ experience in cognitive and behavioural therapy (CBT), and other theoretical frameworks, the consultancy utilises the latest in counselling and psychological theory to help men address their problems and realise their full potential.
“Talking about issues like separation or mental health problems openly helps to break down some of the barriers or stigma men may experience in tough times. Our aim is to normalise help-seeking, and to offer men a variety of ways in which they can do so,” Ms Stewart said.
“As fathers, partners, sons, brothers, as well as employers or employees, men can often feel overwhelmed with responsibility.
“Therapy helps by teaching new ways of thinking and behaving, and changing habits that may be contributing to the depression. Therapy can also help men understand and work through difficult situations or relationships that may be causing their depression or making it worse.
“We work with men everyday who had reached a level of despair, counselling has had a positive impact and given them hope and great recovery outcomes,” Ms Stewart said..
World Mental Health Day is held in October each year in recognition of mental health and the affects it has on people all over the world.