More Men in Therapy, Please: 5 Myths about Men’s Mental Health

Historically, men have resisted therapy for a number of reasons. Common misconceptions and stereotypes about what therapy is have led to this social epidemic that affects men around the world. Therapists everywhere are attempting to challenge the stigma around men’s mental health and get men the support they’ve gone so long without.

It’s all too common for men to suffer in silence because they’re operating under the guise of harmful myths about what therapy really is. Educating yourself on the positive impacts of therapy can help you or a man in your life who’s been resisting help.

Myth: Therapy is just talking about your feelings

Fact: Therapy is so much more than simply discussing our feelings. While emotions are important, it’s less “talking about feelings” and more learning to identify them and if they are causing any problems in life so you can work on how to manage them.

Myth: A therapist is just another person in my life telling me what to do

Fact: Most therapists don’t “tell you what to do,” but rather they help you identify your values and goals, see where things are not aligned, and give you tools to get on track.

Myth: Therapy is only for women, weak-minded people, or someone in crisis

Fact: The reality is… it takes strength to seek out help. There’s nothing weak about making decisions that prioritize your mental wellness. Men benefit from therapy in countless ways. Take a look at Tony Soprano; for instance, even the toughest guys can better themselves through therapy.

Myth: You have to know what to say in order to go to therapy

Fact: A therapist can help you say what you’re not quite sure how to say. It’s typical for men to think they have to be in control or take the lead in every interaction they have, which is why this uncertainty can stall them from seeking support. If you want a few cheat codes, take a look at this post I wrote on what you can talk about in therapy.

Myth: My partner provides enough support, so I don’t need a therapist too  

Fact: A relationship can have positive effects on mental health, but it cannot be a substitute for therapy. Having a supportive partner can be very helpful, but it’s unfair to place these expectations on one person (who more than likely isn’t a trained professional). This dynamic could lead to unhealthy patterns and codependent behaviors. In addition to individual therapy, experiencing couples counseling can help restore healthy and supportive boundaries in your relationship.

It’s time to lay these myths to rest

Unfortunately, it’s these very myths that can cause men to avoid talking about their mental health, putting them at a higher risk for untreated depression and even suicide. We tend to see men less likely to reach out for social support, making the role of a therapist so helpful to lend a non-judgmental, supportive landing space when struggling. Depression in men can look different than one would expect, with symptoms like irritability and aggression cropping up instead of the more well-known symptoms of sadness and being more withdrawn. This not only feels terrible, but can have negative consequences for relationships and work environments. We also see men turning toward alcohol and drugs to try and cope with difficult emotions or stress, which can lead to other physical and emotional problems.

It’s time to let go of the myths surrounding men’s mental health. If your own resistance or circumstances have stood in the way of being your best self, therapy can help you win your life back. Start with a free consultation and you’ll see how good life can get.

Kim Ronan, LCSW, MPH

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