KANSAS CITY, Mo — June is National Men’s Health Month, bringing awareness to the importance of physical wellness, but experts are also hammering home the importance of not neglecting a more hidden topic of mental health.
Seth Henson is the owner of Ellie Mental Health’s three locations in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Before the pandemic, he dedicated a number of years to fitness, but after seeing the effects of COVID-19 on so many of his loved ones, he decided to dedicate the second chapter of his career to mental health.
“Seeing what breaking down barriers did in physical fitness, it opened my eyes that those same kind of things as I explored mental health existed, just in a different way,” said Henson. “I think it gave me an added awareness internally, it made me recognize what was my optimal mental health.”
Henson's mission for his clinics is to make services more accessible and affordable. Part of that accessibility means breaking down barriers — both financial and social.
“We’re raised to be strong and to suck it up when things aren't going your way,” said Henson.
Shelby Finley, a clinic director, says women are much more likely to seek help than men. From Finley's experience, she says men are more likely to show symptoms of anger when struggling with mental health.
“Anytime I’ve worked with a male, it’s kind of breaking down what actually is driving that anger to really understand the emotions and the feelings of the situation that is causing,” said Finley.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, culture, fatherhood, race and socioeconomic state all play a role in stopping men from therapy.
The result? One in 10 males experience depression or anxiety but less than half will get help.
“The more you don’t talk, the more you just feel like it’s a “you” issue. And then from there, you know, it can get really bad. It can get to where someone might have suicidal thoughts or might lead to a divorce — something life altering,” said Finley.
She says one solution to the issue is hiring more male therapists. She is excited to see that in her classroom at Avila University, where she is an adjunct professor, there are more male students than female students for the very first time
“Most people want to see a therapist that looks like them, down to race and gender, age even. And so as therapists, my job is to make sure that I have a diverse team that can represent that population that’s coming on,” said Finley. “We’re a very female dominant field, and so, finding a male therapist is hard."
Finley wants to remind all men that there are different types of therapists and therapy is not a one size fits all. So give it a chance, and know that one brave person could pave the way for others.
“If you have five friends, you influence one of them, that’s great. You’ve made a difference,” said Finley.