New research suggests ways to get men to open up

Seniors Daily Exercise

UBCO research shows that finding ways to anchor mental health promotion in a lifestyle intervention such as team sports, hobbies or other interests encourages men to seek out and engage in health services.

While the stereotypical image of the sullen male suffering in silence still rings true in many places, a group of international researchers says men will talk about their mental health, but only in the right settings.

Researchers from UBC Okanagan, UBC Vancouver and two universities in Australia recently published research examining how the stigma associated with mental health issues magnifies when men are involved.

Dr. Joan Bottorff, Director of UBCO’s Institute for Healthy Living and Chronic Disease Prevention, says men often ignore physical health issues and it’s even worse when it comes to mental health. The research was conducted in Australia, she explains, because statistics confirm Australian men often ignore mental health symptoms and they account for three-quarters of deaths from suicide in that country.

Generally, men tend to immerse themselves in their work, have a general lack of their own emotional awareness or can operate on autopilot with the hope that any issue might eventually go away or resolve itself, explains Dr. Paul Sharp, a UBCO alumnus and current postdoctoral researcher with UBC’s Men’s Health Research Program.

“People say men don’t talk, but we know that’s not true,” he says. “Once they are in the right space, they will open up. However, you can’t say to a man ‘come and talk about mental health and have a bit of exercise’. It needs to be the other way around.”

Dr. Cristina Caperchione, senior author and Associate Professor at the University of Technology in Australia, says these findings, published recently in PLoS One, demonstrate the need to provide better direction for gender-sensitized approaches to community-based mental health promotion for men.

Read more here: UBC Okanagan News