(INTERMOUNTAIN HEALTHCARE) – November is National Men’s Health Month and a good time to address men’s mental health. November is often known for “Movember” or “No Shave November,” but officially, it’s about raising awareness of men’s health, particularly prostate cancer, as well as mental health and suicide prevention.

There has been a stigma for men to address their own mental well-being and the notion to “keep quiet.”

This is an underlying problem that has been common in society – men have not been addressing their own mental health enough, according to Dr. Travis Mickelson, mental health integration director for Intermountain Healthcare.

“It’s vital that we have open dialogue and encourage all men to talk about their mental health and offer support and help,” said Dr. Mickelson.

Michael Todd, from Salt Lake City, is aware of these issues and experienced them firsthand. He lost his dad to suicide, and other close family members, as well.

“Our society looks down on a man that has emotions. It acts as a conflicting point when men are wanting to talk about their troubles,” Todd said.

Todd himself is a suicide attempt survivor from eight years ago. He has changed his outlook on life since then and now works to break the cycle of suicide in his family.

As a volunteer for the Utah chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, he knows the importance of helping others in need and offering them help – and hope for a brighter future.

“I wanted to find a purpose for myself and others now,” Todd said. “There is hope that you can progress and get healthier.”

About six million American men suffer from depression every year, but men are far less likely than women to seek help. Men are four times more likely to die from suicide.

Men are twice as likely to abuse alcohol, and three times as likely to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“It’s not as if men simply don’t suffer from mental health issues – it’s just that many do so in silence,” said Dr. Mickelson.

Historically, talking about and seeking help for mental health issues has been viewed by society as a weakness.  Even making specific efforts in the name of mental wellbeing, such as meditation or yoga is often seen as something for women, not men, said Dr. Mickelson.

“Expressing emotions and seeking help and support from others is a sign of strength and resilience.  As men, we can be role-models to our children and our friends, and this will directly impact the shame and stigma that prevents us from getting the support we need when we are suffering,” he added.

When it comes to non-professional help, many women find great support from having close friends. Men can benefit similarly.

One of the top predictors of mental – and medical – health is being part of a supportive community. And often the final straw preceding a suicide attempt is a feeling of isolation.

“Talking saves lives,” Todd said. “It has taken me years to get to where I am. But there needs to be more outreach for men.”

If it’s time to address your mental well-being, then talk to your doctor or seek out a therapist.

Intermountain Healthcare has created a free Behavioral Health Navigation Line, at 833-442-2211, that is available seven days a week, from 10 am to 10 pm, where anyone can contact a specialist to talk through concerns.

Specialists will help address caller’s concerns and can refer them to resources nearby for additional support or a plan of action.  

For more information, visit the Intermountain Healthcare website.

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