COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – June is Men’s Health Month and Dr. Geoffrey Williams, a licensed professional counselor, says that mental health for men is a concern that is often overlooked.
According to Mental Health America, 6 million men in the U.S. are affected by depression each year while more than 3 million men suffer from anxiety disorders.
“It’s important to take a moment to spotlight the impact of mental health as it relates to how they are effective partners with their spouses, fathers to their children, and members of their community,” Williams says.
Williams says men tend to have valid responses to not prioritizing mental health, such as feeling they don’t have time to stop and check in with themselves mentally.
The outcome of not addressing mental health concerns can cause behavioral responses such as substance abuse, frustration, and inability to concentrate, he says, and those responses can get worse if they go unchecked.
Columbia father of three, Wright Culpepper, says he has grown to prioritize his mental wellbeing and relies on a strong network of other dads to help point out changes in his behavior.
“A lot of times we let guys button up our emotions more than we should, and so I think by just talking with people and being vulnerable with other guys, I think folks will realize that other guys are going through the same thing,” says Culpepper.
Williams says one of the most important aspects of the human experience is validation; being acknowledged by another person can be very powerful in beginning mental health treatment.
Looking past cultural and gender stereotypes is important, too, says Williams.
“The wonderful thing about human beings is we can evolve and we don’t have to get stuck in an idea of how we should be,” he says. “So, if you’ve grown up without the prototype family, don’t be embarrassed to ask a peer who is a father or a peer, who’s had some problems or peer who knows a professional. We’re all a network.”
Brooks Herring, a veteran diagnosed with PTSD, says he has viewed his mental health differently through his years as a veteran, a student, and a father. He says the way he handles his mental health is the way that he teaches his two sons to manage theirs.
“I want to set the example that it is okay to have emotion, it is okay to have feelings, it is okay to check in with yourself it is okay to address your mental health. And that is what makes you strong,” says Herring.
Dr. Williams emphasized that health professionals all have connections to mental health professionals, so it can be beneficial to ask for recommendations for mental health professionals when seeing other healthcare providers.
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