We would like to help guide you to resources that will answer your questions, direct you to support groups or find treatment.  We know that it can be an overwhelming task to find help.  Visiting Bring Change to Mind was a good place to start and we can suggest a few options for you. Mental illnesses are treatable and, with proper medical attention, people living with a diagnosable condition can lead successful and productive lives. Learn the symptoms. Seek treatment. Find support. To find resources in your community we suggest contacting The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). NAMI is a national organization with local chapters offering support groups, classes and information. To find your NAMI State Organization, please click here. Local affiliates can be located through the state website.

Below are some links to national organizations to help you find further information. While there are countless local organizations that do exemplary work in the mental health space, we must keep this resource list to those with national reach.

Men's Mental Health

Dr. Sara Hickmann is a Clinical Counselor for the Fleet and Family Support Center at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, CA. Previously, she served as the Director of Player Assistance Services in the Player Development Department at the National Football League (NFL) from 2004 to 2009. We asked Dr. Hickmann to compile a list of commonly held misconceptions about men’s mental health.

Our goal in the Men’s Mental Health Campaign is to challenge some of the common yet false beliefs that men hold about mental health, particularly the beliefs that might prevent them from getting the help they need. Let’s start the conversation.

Common Belief: “I don’t need help. I got this.”

Research shows that, often, the men who need mental health services most – stressed out, successful, athletic, family men – are also the least interested in getting help. The traditional male role encourages a preoccupation with success, power and competition. And yet these types of men are at higher risk of negative psychological consequences, such as depression, anxiety, and relationship problems.

Common Belief: “Talking about my problems is not going to change anything.”

The term “normative male alexithymia” has been used to describe men’s problems with expressing their emotions, a possible contributor to depression and barrier to treatment. Men are geared towards problem solving, but sometimes holding in how you feel is part of the problem. When you start talking about things that bother you or are causing stress, the problem solving can begin. Athletes will “huddle up” on the court or field to make a plan or a game strategy and make adjustments as they go along. This is similar to what happens in counseling or therapy.

Common Belief: “It’s not that bad, it’s the way I’ve always been.”

Most likely, you don’t like to go to the doctor when you have a fever, sore throat, and cough. You probably want to ride it out and see if you can just get better on your own. But then you realize the cough has now turned into bronchitis and you aren’t able to work. Mental health issues can be similar. It can be hard to know when it’s time. Sometimes, you just need to talk. And, other times, it’s pretty bad. You can’t get out of bed or function. Untreated depression and other psychiatric problems can result in personal, family, and financial problems, even suicide. According to NIMH, four times as many men as women die by suicide in the United States, which may result from a higher prevalence of untreated depression. Yet eight out of 10 cases of depression respond to treatment.

Common Belief: “People will think I am crazy if I see a psychologist.”

Our brains are sensitive organs that respond to our genetics, traumatic life events, and stress. Many of these factors are not in our direct control. Men may express their depression in terms of increases in fatigue, irritability and anger, loss of interest in work, and sleep disturbances. It has also been shown that men use more drugs and alcohol, perhaps to self-medicate. This can mask the signs of depression, making it harder to detect and treat effectively. A diagnosis is not a life sentence. A diagnosis can be a name of a condition that provides a road-map for proper treatment and improvement in your mood, relationships, and life.

Start the conversation. With someone you trust. With someone who is trained. With someone who cares. Ask questions. Start the conversation.

Conversation Guide

Some tips to start a conversation with someone about concerns around mental health.

Start a Conversation

  • Educate yourself before approaching the topic of mental health.
  • Find a place that’s both comfortable and private.
  • Don’t just talk about mental health – talk about other things you normally discuss or an activity/hobby you share.
  • Pick a time when you can both chat without interruption or distraction.
  • Be relaxed, open and approachable in your body language.
  • Validate their feelings.
  • Ask open-ended questions: ‘How are you?’ or ‘What’s been going on?’

Listen Without Judgment

  • Whatever they are saying, take it seriously.
  • Do not interrupt.
  • Encourage them to explain what they are struggling with.
  • Avoid using stigmatizing words and language.
  • Ask ‘How does it make you feel?’ or ‘How long have you felt that way?’

Encourage Action

  • Show that you’ve listened by recapping.
  • Help them think about options and next steps.
  • Urge them to commit to doing one thing that might help.
  • Ask them to write their feelings down if that is more comfortable than speaking.
  • If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or health professional.
  • Offer to go with them to see a doctor or health professional.

Follow Up

  • Put a note on your calendar to call them in one week. If they’re really struggling, follow up sooner.
  • Make sure they’ve managed to take that first step and see someone.
  • If they didn’t find this experience helpful, urge them to try a different professional because there’s someone out there who can help them.
  • Schedule regular get-togethers to touch base or just spend time together doing fun activities.
  • Some helpful comments: “How are things going? Did you speak with your doctor? 
What did they suggest? What did you think of their advice?
 You’ve had a busy time. Would you like me to make the appointment?”

Dealing with Denial?

  • If they deny the problem, don’t criticize. Acknowledge they’re not ready to talk.
  • Say you’re still concerned about changes in their behavior and you care about them.
  • Ask if you can check in again next week if there’s no improvement.
  • Avoid a confrontation with the person unless it’s necessary to prevent them hurting themselves or others.
  • Some helpful comments: “It’s ok that you don’t want to talk about it but please don’t hesitate to call me when you’re ready to discuss it. Can we meet up next week for a chat? Is there someone else you’d rather discuss this with?

Is Their Life in Danger?

  • If someone says they’re thinking about suicide, it’s important you take it seriously.
  • Tell them that you care about them and you want to help. Don’t become agitated, angry or upset.
  • Explain that thoughts of suicide are common and don’t have to be acted upon.
  • Ask if they’ve begun to take steps to end their life. If they have, it’s critical that you do NOT leave them alone and do NOT use guilt or threats to prevent suicide.
  • Even if someone says they haven’t made a plan for suicide, you still need to take it seriously.
  • Don’t hide suicidal comments even if asked to keep confidential – reach out for help.
  • Get immediate crisis help by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).