regardless of explorative showing that men experience mental health problems at equal, if not higher, levels than women, men are less likely than women to seek therapy. “According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]nearly twice as many women as men (24.7 versus 13.4 percent). mental health treatment in the past year”, he notes Seth Gillihan, PhDa clinical psychologist and author of the forthcoming book Mindful cognitive behavioral therapy: A simple path to healing, hope and peace.
Dr. Gillihan adds that part of men’s reluctance to seek therapy may be due to stereotyping about what it means to be a man and the belief that needing therapy is a sign of weakness. Additionally, given that most therapists are female, it may be difficult to find a male therapist if this is preferred. “In my field of psychology, for example, only approx one third of psychologists are men“The numbers are even more pronounced,” says Dr. Gillihan licensed clinical social workers AND marriage and family therapistswhere only about 22 percent are men.” This creates another barrier to getting needed mental health care.
So, to summarize: Dr. Gillihan says, in general, finding a good therapist can be challenging, let alone for men who face additional obstacles. The good news? There are many mental health resources for men to learn more about therapy (without judgment) and get the support they need.
He suggests starting with these 5 mental health resources for men
1. Online educational sites
As a starting point, Dr. Gillihan suggests online resources that provide information and education about mental health issues that affect men, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In particular, he advises to check National Institute of Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental IllnessAND American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These online resources are full of information, making them worthy of a deep dive to help better understand various mental health issues, including warning signs, symptoms, and available treatment options.
Dr. Gillihan recommends asking for a referral from your primary care doctor or a trusted friend. Your health insurance can also help you find a therapist in your network. He adds that seeing an out-of-network therapist is likely to cost more out of pocket. When asking for referrals, note what qualifications you are looking for in a therapist, such as: preference to work with a male or female provider. You can also ask for suggestions from therapists who have experience working with men and understand the stigmas and challenges they face around mental health to help narrow your search.
3. Provider databases
The good internet can also be a useful resource for finding a mental health provider. In particular, Dr. Gillihan recommends searching your local area through a mental health search engine such as Psychology today, which allows you to filter searches for female, male, or non-binary therapists. You can also search for local psychiatrists, treatment centers and support groups. Good therapy is another database that Dr. recommends. Gillihan. Other options include American Psychological Association AND TherapyforBlackMen.org. The advantage of searching for a therapist online is that you can find those who offer teletherapy sessions, which means you can cast a wider net and look for providers outside of your general area.
4. Local colleges and universities
Another great mental health resource for men? Local colleges and universities. “If you live near a college or university with a professional mental health training program, they may offer low-fee counseling to their trainees,” says Dr. Gillihan. “Your therapist training will be closely supervised by a licensed provider.” And side note: If budget is a concern, Dr. Gillihan adds that some therapists offer reduced fees to those with significant financial need, so it’s always worth asking if it’s necessary.
5. Self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy
Dr. Gillihan says taking a DIY approach can be helpful for men who aren’t ready to sign up for therapy yet, but want to dip their toes in to get a feel for it. He recommends self-directed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
To give it a go, he points to self-help books on CBT. The Association for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has one helpful list of self-help book recommendations you can watch. Self-help books can be effective for those with mild to moderate symptoms. However, Dr. Gillihan advises men experiencing more serious mental health symptoms to work with a professional.
Once you find a therapist
As you navigate accessing mental health support, finding a therapist you like and can relate to is important. “The quality of your relationship with your therapist can have a huge impact on treatment,” says Dr. Gillihan. “Take the first few sessions to get a feel for your therapist, and don’t hesitate to let them know when something isn’t working for you. Good therapists want your feedback so they can be as helpful to you as possible.”
If, for whatever reason, the therapist doesn’t feel like a good fit, he suggests looking for a new one.