By James Snow, LMHC, CAP, Clinical Director of Lucida What are you, a big baby? Stop crying! Suck it up, man! Pull yourself together. Don\u2019t ever let them see you sweat or show your weak side. Men are given messages from the time they are children that insist they must be strong, capable, in charge and never show emotional distress. They do not have permission to be depressed, upset or emotionally lost. Even though progress has been made and there is more research about men and depression, the antiquated gender stereotype is alive and men continue to buy into the belief that they must pull themselves up by the bootstraps and suffer in silence. This has a tremendous impact on men\u2019s mental health and can lead to depression and unresolved trauma and PTSD, not to mention the impact these issues have on the family, particularly the children. These stereotypes are passed from generation to generation and reinforced through our culture. Because of the stigma of male depression, men act out their feelings in other ways \u2015 mostly through anger, rage and aggression. The pain has to come out in some way and those emotions and accompanying behavior are acceptable for males. It\u2019s OK to be a tough guy, to yell or even throw a punch. But men are still struggling with the concept of being truly vulnerable. Many do not have a clue about how much emotional pain they have shoved down and how they have denied their feelings. Since men do not typically articulate their inner pain, people around them may assume that men do not experience emotional turmoil. They don\u2019t think of the men in their lives as the ones who are suffering emotionally. But they are. For men, pain is isolating, leading them down a path of hopeless desperation. The result is unhealthy and destructive attempts to mitigate emotional pain, including substance abuse and violent and dramatic suicide attempts. Generally, men are the last ones to reach out for help. As a result, their emotional needs are minimized and they are an undertreated population for mood disorders and trauma.\r\nWhen Help Is Needed\r\nThere are certain signs that indicate anxiety in men, as well as depression and other mood disorders, including:\r\n\r\n \tChanges in mood, energy level or sleeping habits\r\n \tAppetite changes, including eating too much or not enough\r\n \tAn ongoing feeling of being on edge, restless or unable to focus\r\n \tAggressive behavior and having a short fuse\r\n \tOverwhelming stress or worry\r\n \tFeeling emotionally numb and detached\r\n \tSubstance abuse and other destructive behaviors\r\n \tLoss of the ability to experience positive feelings and joy\r\n \tSuicidal thinking, talk or attempts\r\n\r\nGetting Beyond Fix, Rescue, Protect and Control\r\nMen are not perceived as being verbally prolific. It\u2019s a cultural stereotype but there is truth to it because they are taught to fix, rescue, protect and control. It\u2019s been the ongoing communication dynamic between men and women and it is the way men traditionally approach a crisis. Ironically, it is the opposite of what most women are seeking, which is someone to listen and understand. A mental health crisis requires a different approach. It requires a safe, nonjudgmental environment where men can thrive in community with one another. The first elements addressed are often foreign concepts for men:\r\n\r\n \tYou're a fully feeling being.\r\n \tYou're built to be an emotional person and you don\u2019t have to be ashamed of feelings.\r\n \tYou\u2019re here to redefine what being vulnerable is and to come to see that it is actually an outward demonstration of strength \u2015 not weakness.\r\n\r\nStopping Unnecessary Suffering\r\nSix million men in the United States experience depression. Many men have been very unhappy for a very long time. They have hidden and swallowed their unhappiness. And when the pain gets so bad that things fall apart in relationships, family and at work, many men internalize it as: I've completely failed. I've failed as a man. I've failed as a husband. I\u2019ve failed as a father. There is a lot of blaming and shaming in this culture, which sometimes gets in the way of men recognizing that having a mental illness is not their fault and that it is a problem they cannot fix on their own. In men\u2019s mental health treatment, we provide a safe space for:\r\n\r\n \tDiscussing important issues and sharing openly without judgment\r\n \tLearning new coping and problem-solving skills to replace destructive behaviors\r\n \tImproving communication skills and enhancing relationships\r\n \tBuilding a network with other men in similar situations\r\n \tHealing from trauma, anxiety and mood disorders\r\n\r\nJust opening the door to dialogue is a way of alleviating some of the unnecessary suffering.\u00a0 Most importantly, the message to impart to men is: You're not a failure. And it is OK to reach out for help. The result of treatment is truly transformative: improved relationships through authenticity and emotional intimacy without the fear of judgment. What a remarkable legacy for a man to leave for his family and children.