Men’s Mental Health and Suicide

Today I was interviewed on “The Grateful Dad” radio show.  The episode highlighted the issue of men’s mental health. I shared my story of struggling with bipolar disorder and my road to recovery such as it is. Sally Spencer-Thomas of the Carson J. Spencer foundation was also interviewed. Her brother battled bipolar disorder and committed suicide six years ago. The intent of the show was to to encourage men to seek help when needed. It can be a really tough thing for guys to seek help for mental illness. There is the stigma attached to it as well as cultural expectations for men to be tough. That is changing somewhat but it’s still a factor.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among working age men in Colorado where I live. It’s tragic. Annually, men ages 25 to 54 account for the highest number of suicide deaths in Colorado. From 2006-2010 there were 4,137 suicide deaths in Colorado and men ages 25 to 54 accounted for 44 percent (1,823 suicide deaths) of those deaths. The high number of suicide deaths among men ages 25 to 54, coupled with the limited prevention and intervention efforts, specifically targeting this difficult to reach demographic, confirms the urgent need to develop suicide prevention strategies to better serve this population.

I can relate to the bone jarring despair of depression and wanting to be done with it. Men have got to get help. There is no need to suffer endlessly or anonymously any more. Sometimes that means friends taking the initiative to get the help that’s needed.

The best resource I have ever found for men to explore the nature of mental illness and feel safe to get the help they need is ManTherapy.org. It’s fantastic for friends to be resourced as well. You have to see it to believe it. It is the most creative site I’ve seen in a long time. The agency that created the campaign is based in Denver and took a humorous approach to a serious issue without demeaning it at all.

If you are a man suffering from mental illness, or a friend of a man who is struggling with it, visit the site. Begin the critical journey of getting help for yourself and others. Mantherapy.org is a powerful portal to a new life.

How about you? How has mental illness impacted your life or someone you know? What have you done to get or give help? Respond below.

Posted in Attitude, crisis, depression, mental illness, Mental Wellness
One comment on “Men’s Mental Health and Suicide
  1. Pastorlewie says:

    Jeff your post reminded me of not only my own battle with depression but also the season of life where I suffered from CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome) for about 18 months in the mid 90’s. I was pastoring in WA at the time and if not for the grace and courage and hard work of my administrative assistant at the church it could have been even more devastating. There are about ten different symptoms that characterize this illness including muscle aches, IBS, sleeplessness, etc. Symptoms like these make a man look and act lazy. So, well meaning people around him try to cheer him up with motivational pep talks designed to remotivate an obviously (externally) under motivated male. This, in turn, causes even more mental stress and exascerbates the whole cycle. I happened to be fortunate and they found elevated Epstein Barr antibodies in my blood work connecting the episode to a response to exposure to a nasty virus. What about the thousands of folks who try to find help within the medical community only to be told that there is no detectable normal source for their illness. Toxicity in our water, air and foods are creating an environment that undermines our God given natural defenses to disease and depression. May the Lord, by His great mercies, raise up within the Church a grace-filled haven for the least of these our brethren.

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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