If you follow conversations about mental health, you’ve probably heard that men are much less likely to go to therapy than women. Unfortunately, this isn’t a myth.
According to The National Institute of Mental Health, around 20 percent of American adults experienced mental illness in 2019. Of those adults, nearly 50 percent of women with mental illness received mental health care, but only around 37 percent of men did.
There’s a stigma around men’s mental health, but conversations are changing. There’s an effort to close this gap and help men get therapy when they need it. If you’re a man considering therapy, you’re not alone.
Remember that talking with a therapist isn’t a sign of weakness. It takes strength and determination to face your mental health head-on.
Therapy can be used to manage a wide range of issues and mental health concerns. For example, therapy helps people cope with job stress and relationship troubles, overcome past traumas, and manage anxiety and mood disorders like depression. These core issues and concerns don’t have a gender and can affect anyone.
But men are
It’s an important conversation to have. The barriers between men and therapy can lead to significant consequences. Studies have shown that men are more likely than women to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
There are numerous reasons why it’s often difficult for men to seek mental health help. Societal messaging still tells many men that talking about their feelings and asking for help is a sign of weakness and makes them less of a man.
From a young age, some boys are told that crying is something only girls do and that they should do things “like a man.” Men are often taught that they need to stay strong at all times and told to deal with their problems quietly and independently.
This lifelong messaging is a lot to overcome. It creates a serious stigma around men’s mental health. It makes it hard for men to admit they’ve had trouble with their mental health to even their partners, family members, or closest friends. It can make men feel guilty about the idea of reaching out for help or seeking therapy.
Fortunately, this stigma is slowly beginning to lessen. Education about the importance of mental health is growing. Multiple initiatives that are aimed at reducing the shame of seeking help have started in the last handful of years.
On social media, men are increasingly talking about their mental health and encouraging other men to do the same. Plus, studies show that millennials and members of Generation Z of any gender are more likely than members of previous generations to seek therapy.
Men often have different symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions than women. These signs can be missed by the men who experience them, their loved ones, and even by some doctors and therapists. These symptoms are just as valid, and it’s important to be aware of them so that you know when to seek therapy.
Signs it’s a good idea to seek therapy include if you’ve:
- felt more irritable than normal
- been having angry outbursts of aggression
- felt low or down
- felt overwhelmed or like you’re under a lot of pressure
- lost or gained weight unexpectedly
- been drinking or using drugs more often than you normally would
- been relying on alcohol or drugs to get through a difficult time
- lost interest in things you normally enjoy
- been having trouble focusing at work, school, or at home
- had more headaches or days feeling generally unwell
- been sleeping too much or too little
- felt worn out or exhausted even after a good night’s sleep
Remember that you’re not alone and that these symptoms are nothing to feel ashamed of. It’s common to feel like talking about your problems won’t do any good, but that’s not the case.
Talking with a therapist is one of the most effective ways you can take action and start to feel better. They can help you worth through the feelings that you’re having and find solutions that work for you.
While it’s not necessary to work with a male therapist, it may help to connect with a therapist who understands the stigmas and challenges men face when it comes to accessing healthcare.
This can be especially important for men who are from historically marginalized groups or are part of an under-resourced community. Feeling safe, comfortable, and accepted by your therapist is a key factor in therapy being an effective treatment.
To get connected to therapists near you, you can call The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline can help at 800-662-4357.
If you’re looking for more specific guidance, you can start by checking out some of the directories below:
- The American Psychological Association
- Therapy for Black Men
- The GLBT National Help Center
- Black Mental Health Alliance
- Therapy in Color
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
- Muslim Mental Health
- Inclusive Therapists
Finding care for free or low-cost counseling
Cost is a major barrier to accessing therapy for people of any gender. But there are resources available to help you afford therapy, no matter your budget.
- If you have insurance, contact your insurance company for a list of mental health professionals in your area that accept your insurance.
- The Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is a directory of therapists who charge between $30 and $80 per session.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can connect you with free or low-cost mental health clinics in your area.
Mentalhealth.govcan also connect you with free or low-cost providers.
- If you’re a student, your school might provide free therapy or be able to recommend local clinics.
Research has consistently shown that therapy is an effective way of treating mental health. Therapy can help men overcome mental health conditions, improve their relationships, and make positive life changes. Therapy is widely considered to have a positive impact on men who participate in it.
It can be hard for men to ask for help and talk about their feelings. The societal stigma around men’s mental health has made it difficult for many men to even consider therapy as an option. But seeking therapy can be very helpful for men.
It’s not a sign of weakness to need to talk with someone — it’s a sign that you’re taking charge of your mental health and your life.