Mental health and the reducing the social stigma of talking about mental health is and has long been a crucial area of focus for The Good Men Project.
One of the most important subjects that our society grapples with is mental health. How do we attend to it? How do we cope when we or our loved ones struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or PTSD? How can we best support ourselves and care for those we love? How can we shift away from a culture that stigmatizes mental health to one that openly addresses mental health as part of everyone’s general health?
Our Men’s Mental Health Social Interest Group has been meeting to examine the stigma and prejudice against mental health issues in our culture that often prevents us – and men in particular – from getting the support that they need, and working to de-stigmatize mental health issues.
Here are some topics that you can use as prompts for posts that would fit our brand and our mission. We hope you will join in this profound and important conversation:
Part of our work includes the sharing of our own stories. For men living with mental illness, it would be incredibly powerful to simply share share your story about that experience. As Dr. Andrew Solomon stated during his interview with us, people writing about their own experiences mitigates each of our aloneness in a profound way. (“One of the primary struggles in all the worlds I have written about is the sense each of us has that his or her experience is isolating. A society in which that isolation is curtailed is really a better society.”) For some prior examples of GMP articles that include such personal storytelling, see here.
1. What was the major turning point in your recovery from depression? What are some things that helped? What advice would you give to others who are fighting depression?
2. When and how did you recognize that you had a mental illness? What things did not help in your recovery? What things did help? Did you experience stigma / discrimination from family, friends, colleagues?
3. My child has OCD. Here is how we helped.
4. If you have faced a problem in your life so severe that it seemed as if you might be defeated or be unable to go on because of it — whether the problem was a mental or emotional crisis, an injury or illness, substance abuse or being arrested, a relationship breakup or a financial breakdown — but then you recovered from or learned to cope with the problem, how has your experience enabled you to be helpful to others who are facing a similar problem?
5. Describe the success you’ve had and the mental illness you managed while achieving it?
6. If you are a man who has gone through therapy, tell us about your experience there. We have heard stories of men who have felt ashamed at having to go to therapy, or thought they should have to fix things themselves. Yet as one man told us, when he finally got into therapy, he saw it as a “celebration”.
7. If you personally suffered from and recovered from depression, what is the number one thing you attribute your recovery to? What advice would you give to others in taking the first steps in recovery?
8. Would you feel comfortable telling people you go to a psychiatrist. Why or why not?
9. There is a concept of “radical hope” —what makes it radical is that it is “directed toward a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is.”
When we are in the midst of a mental health crisis or challenge, we are unable to see that hope and future goodness. But by knowing that it may simply be *unseeable* makes a difference. Discuss your experience with this.
10. Many Dads go through rough times dealing with mental health issues with little or no support. We would like to hear from such Dads, including what you did, who you reached out to, and what you experienced in your struggle with mental illness while being a Dad.
11. How do you deal with children who have mental health issues that are foreign to you as a parent, that can be so difficult to deal with in everyday life. Andrew Solomon’s Far from The Tree addressed parent’s dealing with children that are different than them. How does this map to mental health?
12. Men have historically not spoken about their emotions, which seems a clear link to not getting the help they need when the early warning signs of mental illness might start to arise. One way this is changing is to speak about an awareness of emotional states as “Emotional Intelligence”. Now it sounds more like a skill set, more of a something men might want to have an own—even more “manly” rather than something touchy-feely. Talk about the link between “emotional intelligence” and “mental wellness” in any way you think would be helpful to others.
13. How should we respond to “calls for help” in social media conversations, i.e., when someone says how depressed they are or that they are suicidal in a Facebook post?
14. The U.S. Election – or any other big socio-cultural-emotional news event that can be triggering or traumatic – and its effect on mental health. How can this be triggering, and what are the coping strategies?
15. Some research has indicated that the best words to say to someone who is suicidal is “you matter,” “you make a difference,” or “you are loved.” How can men best practice and internalize these expressions of love, which rules of traditional masculinity seem to counsel against. What are some examples of initiatives or personal stories in this area.
16. The challenges faced by men with mental illness who have limited or no resources- no income, no job, little support. Of course, at times, mental illness leads to these circumstances.
17. Some studies have shown that boys who grow up with no father are more likely to have mental health problems and to end up in prison. How can communities provide direct contact with positive male role models for boys and youths who are growing up without a father figure?
18. “If you don’t transform your pain you will transmit it.” Parenting and mental health.
Please note—these are thought-starters only! We are really looking for stories about the kind of change you want to make and how you are going about doing so. Submit by clicking on the button below, and you’ll get easy access to our Submissions portal as well as guidelines and TOC.
Other ways to connect with our Community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member – of our growing Community! Get access to our Premium Member Community on Facebook, Ad-Free viewing of our site, Writer’s and Editor’s training and more!
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday.
Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Alden Chadwick