By Tara Moser, LCSW, RPT-S and Heather Payne, LMHC –
When it comes to health, especially mental health, men are more likely to avoid taking care of themselves. Men are less likely to visit a doctor for well checks, injuries, and illness. Many women will agree that trying to get a man to go to the doctor for a checkup is a more difficult task than herding a room full of cats. Women, usually significant others or mothers, are left with the unpleasant task of nagging the men they love to pay more attention to their health and wellness.
Why are men so obstinate when it comes to taking care of themselves? Part of the reason may be related to cultural. For generations, men have been raised to avoid showing weakness or vulnerability. For many men, embarrassment also plays a role, especially if symptoms involve more intimate problems such as those sexual, prostate or bowel related.
Research shows that men are four times more likely to complete suicide than women. This is partially related to the missed diagnosis of depression in men. Men tend to hide, both consciously and unconsciously, their signs of depression. The more common signs of depression, such as sadness, do not show as clearly in men; rather symptoms such as anger, aggression, burnout, risk taking behavior, and alcohol and substance abuse. Loved ones close to the man may see these symptoms as “just being a guy” or going through a hard time. To help men with depression, family, friends, physicians and men themselves need to recognize that society’s definition of a man as stoic and unemotional can work against them.
Drinking over the equivalent of one pint of beer a day is linked to multiple health problems. Short term intoxication can cause out of character behavior, aggression, impotence, getting sick and or passing out. Long term effects include addiction, heart disease, liver damage, pancreatitis, mouth and esophageal cancer and fertility problems. It is important to have an honest conversation with the man when he is sober about his drinking habits and help him identify ways to moderate his alcohol intake.
Many diseases that men suffer from as they age stem from lack of health care earlier in life. Cardiovascular disease is a good example. If a man has not had his cholesterol and blood pressure monitored through his life, he may be seen to “suddenly” develop heart disease or stroke, when in reality symptoms were present much earlier. With regular monitoring and preventative health care, the event might have been prevented. Other top killers include cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease, accidents, pneumonia, diabetes, suicide, kidney disease, and liver disease.
As a man, taking time to put yourself first, even if you do it under the guise of getting check ups for your wife, children, mother, partner, or whoever else is most important in your life, will create a more healthy society. By setting examples for our younger generation, we can show that unhealthy habits prevent us from successful priorities of health and wellness.
We are given a new start to each day, but we are also placed with choices in every moment of life. By choosing better food options, exercise (in whatever form works best into ones daily routine), making smart choices related to alcohol, seeing the doctor regularly and when something doesn’t seem right, and so much more we can become a healthier society. Some risk factors, such as age, sex, and family history cannot be changed. Adopting a healthy diet and regular moderate exercise, along with reducing alcohol intake and quitting smoking may reduce the risk of an untimely death. The good news is that things are gradually changing. Men’s health issues are being brought out into the open, and men are becoming more comfortable talking with their partners about their health concerns. Younger generations of men are starting to reach out for medical and mental health needs for their families and the trend lends itself to acceptance of help being heroic and no longer shameful. If men could respond to health issues the way they respond to the “check engine” light on their cars, symptoms would be evaluated in a much timelier manner!
Heather Payne, LMHC received a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Argosy University, Sarasota. She works with children, adults, couples, and families, and has received extra training in crisis intervention, grief and loss. She is a member of the American Counseling Association, the Association for Death Educators and Counselors, and the Association for Play Therapy. She is also a Registered Nurse, and a Nationally Certified Counselor through the NBCC.
Heather is working toward becoming a registered play therapist, and has two therapy dogs in training who she may use in sessions with clients who request animal assisted therapy. She uses a person centered approach combined with cognitive behavior techniques to provide individualized service for each client. She is a trained Prepare Enrich facilitator and offers premarital counseling for interested couples.
Heather is also the Coordinator for the Lee Memorial Health System’s Pediatric and Pregnancy Bereavement Program.
Tara Moser, LCSW, RPT-S specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Florida (#SW8379), and a Registered Play Therapist Supervisor through the Association for Play Therapy. Tara also specializes in Play Therapy with children 2 -18 years old, as well as incorporates pet-assisted play therapy into some of her clinical work utilizing her two dogs Abbey and Bode.
Tara has worked in a variety of therapeutic roles including foster care, non-profit family counseling, non-profit individual counseling, elementary school based counseling programs, adolescent drug prevention/intervention, behavioral therapy with autism, domestic violence counseling, and supervised visitation, in addition to her private practice.
Tara’s counseling approach is client centered in that each session is unique to meet the client’s needs and utilizes tools that are most effective for the client such as play, music, pets, and art. More often with the younger children, non-directive and directive modalities of play therapy are utilized. Cognitive-behavioral approaches and family system approaches are also utilized.
Learn more on our website at www.deltafamilycounseling.com
Delta Family Counseling, LLC