Suicide rates are higher amongst men (AFSP: “in 2017, men died by suicide 3.54x more often than women”), and yet men are less likely to seek help for emotional distress (NIMH).
Studies show that there are no biological reasons why men seek help less often than women, so this must be learned: Men are taught not to seek help, but instead to remain silent.
The NFL has recognised how deadly this silence can be. Last year the NFL released a report setting out the results of interviews with players and family members. A key finding was that there were several barriers in the way of players seeking help for their difficulties with mental health. These barriers included “fear that seeking help would negatively affect their careers”, “stigma around mental health challenges that keep players from seeking help”.
Also last year, the Carolina Panthers hired the NFL’s first in-house therapist (Tish Guerin) to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health and professional football. This was hot on the heels of an essay shared by the Panthers’ Steve Smith. In this essay he opened up about his struggle with depression: “Despite all of my achievements, I routinely felt trapped, inferior, and alone.”
Guerin has been quoted as hoping that a regular checkup with a mental health professional becomes as commonplace as a woman’s checkup with her Ob-Gyn. That would definitely be a step in the right direction.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone - (201) 779-6917