7 posts tagged “mental health community”

Brits are boosting men’s mental health — can the U.S. follow suit?

Posted 12 months ago by

The British Royals’ passion for improving mental health is giving us all the feels — and possibly helping reduce male suicide rates in the U.K. Who’s raising awareness of men’s mental health in the U.S.? (See how PatientsLikeMe member John, pictured above, is doing his part!)

Diverging stats in the U.K. and U.S.

The U.K. has been making progress in terms of reducing male suicide rates and the stigma around men’s mental health, thanks in part to Heads Together campaign launched by Prince William, Kate Middleton and Prince Harry in 2016. Each of them have their own areas of focus in mental health advocacy.

Kate deserves credit for coming up with the idea to join forces for one major campaign, Prince William says. He and his brother have also been opening up about their grief from losing their mother during their childhood.

Unfortunately, U.S. suicide rates (among men and women) have been on the rise, according to the latest CDC report, and stigma still surrounds mental health — especially among men.

The American Psychological Association (APA) says that about 6 million American men suffer from depression every year, but men are far less likely than women to seek help for their mental health. U.S. psychology researchers are studying “how the traditional male role — which restricts emotional expression and encourages a pre-occupation with success, power and competition — is associated with negative physical and psychological consequences, such as depression, anxiety and relationship problems,” the APA says.

U.S. campaigns and emerging voices

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) launched the “Real Men. Real Depression.” campaign in 2003, and other organizations and initiatives have sprung up, including:

A few high-profile guys have also opened up recently about their mental health struggles. In May 2018, Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps partnered with online therapy provider Talkspace to share his story of therapy helping him through severe depression and suicidal thoughts in 2014.

“Throughout my career, I struggled with depression and anxiety at various times, and I found it so difficult to get the help I needed,” Phelps says, noting that he went for days on end without leaving his room. “As I started opening up and talking about my issues, I felt strength, not vulnerability.”

In an August 2018 Boston Globe interview, Celtics basketball player Paul Pierce said that he privately struggled with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress after he was stabbed in a nightclub in 2000.

PatientsLikeMe member John shares about MDD with WebMD

John (JohnJFB126), a member of the 2016-2017 Team of Advisors, is raising his voice as a man living with major depressive disorder (MDD). He’s partnering with WebMD Education to share his perspective in an educational series aiming to help patients, caregivers and clinicians learn more about the mental health condition. John recently came to Boston to film a series of short videos for the series.

“I decided to share my experience because I know the power associated with exposure and advocacy,” John says. “As an ‘everyday’ guy, who has a wife, family and career, and who’s also had the MDD experience, it’s imperative — almost mandatory — for me to give expression to this disease. With the appropriate treatment, living with and getting through MDD is very possible. Remember you’re not alone.”

John says he hopes others will continue to open up about mental health, “especially those who have attained celebrity notoriety — their audience is usually vast, and this would place a recognizable face on the disease.”

Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to connect with thousands of others in the Mental Health forum anytime, and keep these crisis resources in mind.


“This’ll make you feel better!î About Depression Advice from people who don’t have depression

Posted August 24th, 2018 by

Martha Mills, a writer for The Guardian, candidly wrote a piece called “’Just go for a run’: testing everyday advice for depression,” where she reviews tips that people unfamiliar with depression have offered her to “keep the blues away.” Check out her assessment of different kinds of advice, plus hear what the PatientsLikeMe community has said about mental health–related tips from the peanut gallery.

Testing depression advice from people who don't have depression

Common pointers put to the test

Why did Martha take on this experiment? In her own words: “Being especially practiced at denial, I decided that I, a mere mortal with a solid history of depressive episodes since childhood, could fake my way out of this oncoming tsunami of debilitating black fog using the advice that people who have never experienced depression trot out – an experiment that could surely only succeed [sidelong glance to camera]. I would improve my diet and exercise, force myself to take up hobbies, I would ‘soldier on until it passed’ and thrust myself (reluctantly) into social situations.”

To sum up her “review”:

  • Working out didn’t work for her and just made her mind “churn” (although she acknowledged that exercise can be a beneficial part of a treatment plan for many people with mental health conditions).
  • Taking up “fun” and sociable new hobbies like tap dancing and pottery — and forcing herself to go on days when she could barely utter a sentence — felt silly and awful.
  • “Soldiering on until it passes” — by going to work and keeping a social calendar despite her despair — didn’t work either… because her depression doesn’t “pass” without proper treatment.

This exercise in denial (while not recommended) resulted in some important takeaways for Martha, such as how people without serious depression don’t fully understand it, plus how important prescription medications are for her particular treatment plan. While some pointers can be beneficial (combined with treatments that work for you), statements like”just do this” feel out-of touch and may be ineffective.

The community’s experiences

Some of the PatientsLikeMe mental health community have shared about their experiences receiving tips on how they “just” need to do “X” (fill in the blank).

Here’s a look at their comments on the topic:

  • Opening up on social media about your depression and how you’re doing lately can bring on lots of comments, like “get off the meds — try natural supplements” and “get out of bed and exercise,” one member says.
  • “I get angry and even more depressed when people don’t understand and say stupid things to me like ‘just get over it.’ It is so hurtful.”
  • “My mother in law gave me a book that said that people could cure themselves naturally,” says another member. “I threw the book away once I read that someone diagnosed with bipolar no longer had symptoms because they were being treated for hypothyroidism.”
  • “I got very angry when I went to a class about juicing and one of the presenters said people with mental illness would be cured if they just juiced enough.”

What kinds of advice have you received from people who don’t totally “get” serious mental health conditions? Has any of it been helpful? How do you respond to unhelpful/unwanted tips? Join PatientsLikeMe today share your experiences.

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