Elizabeth Scarlett of Sounding Board Counselling Services Looks at How Mustaches Can Draw Attention to Men's Mental Health this Movember.

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In line with this year's Movember theme, therapist from Sounding Board Counselling Services discuses 4 mental health topics that men address in therapy.

Sounding Board Counselling Services

Many men hesitate to speak openly about mental health issues that impact them.

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Movember has been an ever-growing global movement since originating in 2003. Movember challenges men to grow mustaches in the month of November to draw attention to men's health issues. One area of focus of this movement is men’s mental health. Stated Movember goals as taken from the Movember USA website include: “ 1) Men and boys are mentally healthy and take action to remain so. 2) When men and boys experience mental health problems they take action early. And 3) Men and boys with mental health problems are not discriminated against.” (http://us.movember.com/programs/mental-health).

Despite the reduced stigma of seeking mental health support, many men hesitate to speak openly about mental health issues that impact them. Often this increases the sense of isolation that may intensify the initial concerns.

When many people think of mental health topics, they focus on diagnoses like depression, schizophrenia, or addictions. In doing so, day to day social and lifestyle areas get minimized and are not necessarily considered reasons to go to therapy. In reality, it's those social issues that tend to be a primary focus of counseling sessions, whether or not someone has a formal diagnosis. Social and lifestyle issues can improve quality of life when addressed.

To start the conversation, here are 4 of the most common social/lifestyle reasons men go to counselling:

1) Relationship issues--- This can include wanting to reduce relationship conflict, improving communication or trust, coping with infidelity or a break up or loneliness. Counselling provides a safe space to explore such matters with a neutral party.

2) Anger--- Though society has come a long way, often men are still socialized that it's only acceptable to express feelings that fall on the anger spectrum (even joy can have an aggressive flair. For example--think of two guys celebrating a score at a sporting event). Often men will present to counselling stating that they want to better manage anger. In reality, anger is often a secondary emotion and broader feelings management actually becomes the counseling goal.

3) Expectation pressures---This is another area where though there have been many societal changes, there are still expectations of the role of a man, husband or father. Many men have a self imposed (and sometimes also externally imposed) expectation to be the primary financial provider of their family. Additionally, with many families having two earners, men have also had increased expectations of shared household duties. Expectations in and of themselves are not bad, however they often exceed what may be realistic to accomplish, resulting in increased stress. Counselling allows an opportunity to set and manage more realistic expectations.

4) Self esteem---This is not just an area that impacts women. Many men struggle with their sense of self and feeling good about themselves. Counselling gives a chance for men to re-frame their ideas of self and challenge negative core beliefs of self to gain increased confidence in many areas of their lives.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it includes topics that most men struggle with at some point in their lives. Often just the act of seeing a counselor and having these experiences normalized can be quite healing. Furthermore, a counselor can assist with developing strategies that can improve quality of life. May be something that’s worth an hour a week ---mustache optional.

Want to speak to a therapist and live in the Toronto or Hamilton, Ontario area? Contact Sounding Board Counselling Services at soundingboardonline.com to schedule an appointment.

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Thomson Scarlett
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Sounding Board Counselling Services
since: 02/2014
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