Men Urged to take Care of their Mental Health

Warning: This Story Contains Mention of Suicide. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can always contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF)- With the start of a New Year, many make resolutions on various things they want to improve about themselves.

One thing experts are imploring people to take a self-check on this year is mental health.

The mental health of men has been a topic that has not had a lot of discussion in our society.

For Dr. Shane Kuhlman of Centerstone, this is something he desperately wants to change.

Dr. Kuhlman says that “Men have unique challenges in that society expects them to have it all together… and that we expect men to constantly know what they want, when they want it, and how to get it. And just like everyone in this world, this is not the case.”

This has led to many men avoiding mental health treatment. One consequence of the lack of attention on men’s mental health is rising suicide rates among all demographics of men.

The latest data from the CDC shows a four percent increase in suicide rates overall from 2020 to 2021. Suicides among men went up by 4 percent compared to 2 percent for women. There’s a unique element that is driving the male suicide rate up.

Dr. Kuhlman explains, “Why we are seeing these is due to access to highly lethal means to suicide. A key component around reducing the likelihood of suicide is when suicidal thoughts are present, it’s reducing one’s access to lethal means, because research shows us that if someone decided to use one means of suicide they don’t switch means of suicide. Middle aged white men, especially in the South, are likely to have access to lethal means for suicide such as firearms.”

In order to turn these statistics around, there must be a recognition of when someone needs help. Dr. Kuhlman says to think about, “Are you sleeping less?  Are you having more negative emotions? Are you lashing out? Are you more touchy? Are you increasing the amount of substances you use, from one drink to four drinks a night, or even more than that? Are you doing impulsive things that you don’t traditionally do just because  you’re trying to get away and escape from that moment?”

He has a message he wants to leave for men who might be struggling. Dr. Kuhlman says, “It’s okay to not be okay, especially as a man.  I identify as a traditional cisgender man, and I like to do woodworking and things and I also work in mental health and think expressing emotions is actually really cool.”

Other issues that Dr. Kuhlman discussed were increased pressures on men of color due to racial trauma and a lack of male psychologists for men to receive treatment from. Centerstone does have an office here in Chattanooga off of Shallowford Road.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, you can always contact the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

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