- Jennifer Munt
Let’s face it, even the manliest of men deal with issues like depression, anxiety, anger, and suicidal thoughts. But you can’t fix your mental health with duct tape.
Mental health experts say that many American men are in crisis. One solution is to convince them that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.
About 80 percent of Teamster members are men. Traditional ideals of masculinity socialize us to believe that men are stoic. They can endure pain and hardship without showing their feelings or complaining. Imagine John Wayne. Men are conditioned to be the strong ones, the ones that other people lean on. No wonder most men resist the idea of seeking help, especially for their mind.
Our family service advocates see this firsthand. Often an employer will require a Teamster to get anger management therapy before he can return to work. The root of his problems might be a stressful job, financial concerns, conflicts with his partner, and/or worries about his kids. Life feels overwhelming, yet he probably thinks “I’m not crazy, why do I need therapy?”
Getting men into a professional’s office is only half the battle. Persuading them to talk can be another challenge. One member, who describes himself as “hard to reach,” admits therapy failed until he was brave enough to face his demons. Once he started talking about his feelings, he says “it felt like an 800-pound gorilla was lifted off my back.”
Man Therapy (www.mantherapy.org) is a website designed to educate, reduce stigma, and encourage men to seek help in times of crisis. It uses humor and sports metaphors. The creators know a man’s engine can occasionally overheat. These therapists are like mechanics with a “20-point head inspection” to help men assess their mental wellness. Here’s a sample of their questions.
1 – Do you get enough sleep and free refreshed every morning? Or is exhaustion getting the best of you?
2 – How long does it take for you to fall asleep? Less than 30 minutes? Or do you count sheep for hours?
3 – Feeling sad is a normal part of life, like when the Vikings lose the big game. But do you feel sad, hopeless, or depressed every day?
4 – How has your appetite been over the last month? The same as usual? Or are you binging or barely eating? The state of a man’s mental health is through his stomach.
5 – Are you able to concentrate and make decisions? Or do you feel stuck more often than not?
6 – How do you view yourself? Are you self-confident? Or have you lost your swagger?
7 – Do you think about suicide or hurting yourself? One in 10 individuals experience suicidal ideation in their lifetime. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone.
8 – Have you been enjoying your favorite hobbies and activities? Or have you lost interest in things you normally enjoy.
9 – Is socializing your jam, or are you disconnecting from friends and family?
10 – Can you keep your anger in check, or do you fly off the handle and punch stuff?
11 – Do you feel anxious, worried, or stressed rarely or every day?
12 – If you drink to unwind, do you get lit up and regret how you acted and what you said?
13 – Have you ever tried to give up alcohol or drugs? Whether it’s a lifestyle change or a last chance to save a marriage, many men have tried to quit boozing and using. They want to stop but can’t do it alone.
14 – For veterans, do you feel that your experience in the military overwhelms you in your day-to-day life?
15 – For first responders, do stressors from your work negatively impact your personal life? First responders handle things that would make most desk jockeys cry into their water cooler. When you’re on the clock, you’ve got your partner, unit, or team on your side. Do people at home understand your trauma?
To take the full head inspection, visit https://www.mantherapy.org/head-inspection/question. The results will show you how to improve your mental health.
Whenever life throws you a nasty curveball, we’re here for you. Call the Teamsters Service Bureau at 612-676-3700. Speak with a family support advocate who can connect you with the best therapists in town. We are your free and confidential resource for work-life wellness.
Teamsters Service Bureau