Australian research consistently tells us that there are two major differences between men and women in regard to mental health outcomes. One is that men are far more likely to complete suicide. The other is that men are around twice as likely as women to be experiencing a substance use disorder, including alcohol and other drugs.
Both of these trends are concerning, as they suggest men will respond to emotional distress in ways that are highly destructive to themselves and those around them. It appears that men are more likely to seek solutions to difficult emotional experiences which lead to them acting impulsively, and placing themselves and others at risk of harm. The harmful effects of using alcohol1 and other drugs to manage emotions can include violence, aggression, accidental injury, and suicide attempts.
Men are far less likely than women to seek help, both from friends and professionals. While there has been progress, there is still an ongoing stigma around men asking for help. At AccessEAP we are working at breaking down the stigma and suggesting ways in which we can better support men to manage their emotions in a more positive way. It seems that many men don’t see the value in talking about their problems. Male friends of mine will say “talking about it won’t change anything”. They are right. Talking alone does not make the situation better but is a step in the right direction, keeping feelings inside does not make them go away.
Our aim at AccessEAP is to engage men in healthy solution-focused strategies. The benefits of talking to a counsellor are in the practical tools and solutions that can then be explored. The first step is to acknowledge the painful or negative emotions, but this is not where counselling stops. The next important step is to look at what has been tried and tested, and uncover new or different ways of managing a situation.
If you are concerned about a man that you work with or a man in your personal life, here are some tips and suggestions: