When your loved one is struggling with their mental health, it’s hard to know what to do. When caring for men, there can be extra barriers.
The fact that you’re here shows a kind heart and a great love for your partner, which means much of the work you can do is done already.
You cannot fix someone’s troubles alone, but you can support them healthily. With this guide, you’ll learn how to help your partner while maintaining your own peace of mind
1. Get a support system
Both of you are going to need a support system. Friends and family are great – not to mention necessary – but they cannot stand in place of professional assistance. You need to contact a trusted men’s mental health organization that explains in detail Why We’re Different.
As the supporting spouse or partner, it’s a good idea for you to have professional support of your own. You’re a person with feelings, too, and sometimes you’ll need to say things in confidence.
2. Understand why he may be hesitant about therapy
Men are both taught to keep up an unflappable demeanour. Getting help for mental health may feel in contradiction to this.
A common well-meaning but damaging mistake is to try to reframe that thought immediately, such as “real men talk about their feelings”. Even if this comes from a good place, it could come across as emotional blackmail or as you’re questioning his validity as a man.
People have legitimate concerns about starting therapy, including losing their freedom or privacy. When someone’s concerns are dismissed instead of acknowledged, they will only grow.
3. Make the goals solution-based
You need to take common and culturally-encouraged male communication styles into consideration for their treatment to be effective.
It has been proven that men respond better to therapeutic tactics that create a tangible solution to the problem. It gives them a sense of accomplishment, which increases their self-worth. If he discusses anxiety, depression, or other issues, he is searching for what to do to rectify that problem.
4. Change habits
In a family, it is never just one person’s illness. Each person in the house has likely acquired habits that are not conducive to a healthy environment.
All self-responsible household members need to consider how they may be contributing to an unhealthy environment. Then, resolve to replace it with a healthier coping mechanism.
5. Make information safe
Many men feel it’s risky to open up about mental health struggles. Once they do, this information needs to be confidential and only be shared with others if they choose to do so themselves.
If a breach of trust happens, it will be almost impossible to undo the damage. That’s another reason you should have your own therapist – so that if you absolutely need to discuss this information, it can be confidential.
6. Take care of yourself
The last thing you want is to develop caregiver burnout – it’s not good for you or your relationship. It will lessen your effectiveness and cause resentment to build up.
To avoid becoming overwhelmed, choose one thing each day that you do just for yourself. It doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be as simple as a walk around the block or a relaxing bath.
Creating a healthier life for both of you
Most of the time, helping someone through a difficult period is just showing up. Know what is and isn’t within reason for you to do. Above all, make each day a step forward, even if it’s a small one.
These little steps will go a long way over time.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.