Monday, November 21, 2016

“If it ain’t broke...” it ain’t getting better – Mindset Matters in Men’s Health

By Zachary Gerdes

We all know the guy driving the beater to work. The guy who drives the 1992 Geo that he got from his uncle Jim in exchange for a hundred bucks and a 6-pack. When he fires that bad boy up after work, everyone gets to comment on the beautiful bronze of the rusted out rims or how it sounds like toxic waste is getting sucked through a curly straw when he revs it (to avoid killing it). Geo Guy might fire back at these “compliments” with the old adage, “If it ain’t broke ….” Then he’ll drive that sucker until there’s 250k on the speedometer and more money sunk into it than it was worth when they stopped making them.

The kicker is, a ton of men are Geo Guy when it comes to health: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words: “Unless I can see the bone sticking out of my arm, I’m not going to the doctor,” or “I can’t see chunks of brain falling out my ears, so the heck with talking to some shrink about anger or stress.” Men often default to the “it ain’t broke” mentality especially when it comes to mental health. As men, we can laugh at the guy who says he goes 20,000 miles without changing the oil in his Geo but then be proud that we haven’t been to a doctor in years?

Doing something for your mental health isn’t about sprawling on a couch talking about your relationship with your mother. You don’t have to check your manhood at the door when talking about issues like stress, anger, relationships, and other mental health stuff. It’s not about whining for help, it’s about grabbing life by the balls with tools and resources to be better. Like taking a 20 point head inspection to see how you’re faring.

There’s nothing weak about being a better man, husband, and father. Sometimes being a man means knowing where to go for the right answers. Research tells us that the more men rely solely on themselves, the less courage, resilience, endurance, self-esteem, and life satisfaction they have. That’s why Man Therapy exists: to connect men with answers rather than hang them out to dry alone.

Men are more likely to kill themselves than women because things like depression and anxiety are real. In response, a lot of guys will self-medicate with alcohol and other substances instead of taking their brain to the shop. When life throws some diesel into your regular tank, try going to the experts. Or maybe give breathing a shot, the way a man does it. Mental health treatment is about keeping the engine clean. Whether it’s time for an oil change or a trade in, it’s prime time to get better. 

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Zachary Gerdes writes about men’s issues for Man Therapy as well as MindsandMen.org and various academic journals. He teaches psychology at the University of Akron and has worked with students, veterans, first responders, and the criminal justice system. He consults with universities and other groups developing resources for men. He is a member of the American Psychological Association’s Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinity (Division 51). Email him: z@mindsandmen.org

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