It is of course, no surprise, that in today’s day and age the adage of “do it yourself” still reverberates.
Even with the significant changes we have seen sweeping everything from gender roles to perceptions of sexuality, the pressure felt by males to perform and remain self-sufficient and “strong” continue to weigh heavily on the shoulders of our youth, mirroring that of the prior generation.
One does not have to look far to see the wide-reaching impact of this philosophy. According to a recent post on Faculty Focus, regarding college students, “In surveys, students acknowledge the importance of receiving advice, but many do not receive it—34 percent in one survey reported that never during their academic careers had they met with an adviser. As seniors, only 19 percent reported that they had met three or more times with an adviser.”
This means that at a time when youth are most vulnerable, and often without the support of family, the drive to “handle” it solo is still the operating script for students nationwide. The article goes on to say that with students it is important to acknowledge gender pressures are one of the key indicators saying, “Men sometimes find it more difficult than women do to admit needing help.”
The impact can be felt in the workplace as well. Trucking, a profession typically controlled by an older and more “seasoned” generation of drivers, and dominated by males (a whopping 94%) has seen a recent influx of millennials. In a recent article on truck driving, they found that the recent influx of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as mental health issues, are being left untreated in part because “Men are often reluctant to get help for their mental and physical health problems. There’s still a stigma against mental illness that keeps many people from seeking help”.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes 5 Myths that prevent men from asking for help for their depression including viewing depression as a weakness, feeling that a man should be able to “control his feelings”, “Real men don’t ask for help”, Talking about the issues won’t help, and asking for help is a burden to others. These mindsets–among others–are a significant challenge in being able to identify and treat issues as they arise.
So how can one encourage others to reach out and ask for help when needed without triggering the stigma or challenging another’s feeling of self-worth?
Make the decision to ask for help an easy one.
Provide options, provide insight, provide availability but by no means should you apply pressure outside of an urgent situation. The more you can do to provide options and direction without pushing someone away or creating a negative feeling in response to the goal, the more likely it is that they will make the right choices.
Plant Ideas and Watch Them Grow
Sometimes the best idea for a person is one that they came up with on their own.
This often takes insight into the problem which many don’t have, so it is important to tactfully (from the root word “TACT”) assist them in noting issues as they arise and generally exploring potential solutions. Present ideas and let them choose how to respond. This process also allows them to see that discussing their issues is both productive and not a burden.
One of the key areas that lead to the aforementioned issues and is critical in changing the pattern of behavior and perception of vulnerability is modeling behavior. Our development as people is a product of both nature and nurture and therefore it is critical to lead by example. Speak about your feelings and concerns, be vocal, be vulnerable and show others that it is o.k to ask for help and o.k to struggle. Providing examples of others doing the same, especially in the form of media can be incredibly positive. Most of all, normalizing this experience is key to promoting a change of perspective.
This is paid content as part of a partnership between The Good Men Project and US Drug Test Centers.
Photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash