It is Men's Health Week this week (13-19 June 2016). The majority of clients in counselling are female, and yet the majority of suicides are carried out by men.
In this article, I explore the concept of men seeking help, & I suggest that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness
“Women seek help — men die” (Jules Angst and Celile Ernst). This is a blunt way of summarising the statistic that suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20 to 45 (in the UK there are 3.5 male suicides for every 1 female suicide). To seek help, to share the burden, implies that we are admitting defeat, and that we do not have the strength. “We are less of a man.”
Instead of seeking help, the statistics suggest that men deal with distress in other ways -
In an article in the Guardian Matt Haig quoted from the book ‘White Noise’ (Don DeLillo): ‘What could be more useless than a man who couldn’t fix a dripping faucet - fundamentally useless… to the messages in his genes?” And Haig added: “What if, instead of a broken faucet it is a broken mind?”
During Men’s Health Week, and beyond, we need to normalise the concept of a man seeking help. To seek help for emotional distress is just about as normal as a man fixing a tap!
Chris Warren-Dickins BACP Registered Counsellor