5 Ways for Men To Improve Their Mental Health - MetroFamily Magazine
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5 Ways for Men To Improve Their Mental Health

by Michael Dickerson

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

Not only do we celebrate Father’s Day in June, but the entire month is actually Men’s Health Month. What better time to reflect on men’s mental health? Our society often overlooks the challenges and struggles men face on the daily — whether it’s at work, in our marriages or as fathers. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, about six million men suffer from depression every year. This means that we men also need plenty of positive coping skills to overcome these challenges and remain emotionally healthy — for ourselves, our families and our coworkers. Today, I’ll explore five ways we men can improve our mental health.

  1. Embrace your vulnerability. Since we’re taught to suppress our emotions as young boys, it can be difficult to express our feelings once we become men — and fathers. But that doesn’t mean these feelings don’t exist! Many think being vulnerable means pouring out your emotions to everyone at any time, but that’s a common misconception. What it actually means is to mindfully and selectively open up about your struggles and show your loved ones your fully authentic self — at the appropriate time. Give yourself permission to be vulnerable. It’s good for the soul!
  2. Do work that matters. Many men define our identity by the work we do and/or the money we make doing it. Obviously, we need to make a living from our work, but it’s also important to find meaning and purpose. When we feel like our work matters, we experience more positive emotions like joy, happiness and contentment in our lives, which impacts our overall mental health — and improves our capacity to manage the negative emotions that inevitably arise. If our only goal is to move up the career ladder, we won’t feel satisfied for long. To experience lasting contentment, our work must align with at least some of our values and give us a sense that we’re making difference.
  3. Get support from other men. Sadly, there are not very many mental health support groups for men — yet it’s imperative for us to spend intentional, quality time with other emotionally healthy men. Something magical happens when we share our struggles with other men and offer empathy and a listening ear. If you’re not sure where to start, find an activity you enjoy that will give you a chance to interact with other men. That might mean waking up early to hit the gym with friends before work, going on a weekend hunting trip or coming together to watch your favorite sporting events. Taking time to be around other men is one of the greatest — and most fun — investments you can make in your mental health.
  4. Give back to your community. Drawing inspiration from one of my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are we doing for others?’” As men, we can get so consumed with our own busy lives that we lose sight of the importance of helping other people. Yet when we help others, we selflessly get out of our comfort zones and remember that the world does not revolve around us, which in turn, makes us happier. Much like doing work that matters to us leads to positive emotions, helping someone move into their new house, donating to causes we really believe in, inspiring young men to pursue their dreams or volunteering at your local food pantry can almost instantly boost your mood. And if you consistently help others, it’ll have a lasting, positive impact on your well-being.
  5. Set a new goal. Most of us experience the most growth when we’re up against a challenge or pursuing a major goal. These challenges help us focus our energy and find our life’s purpose, which ultimately fulfills us. For you, this might mean setting a new financial goal you want to reach within the next six months, building that business you’ve been daydreaming about, going back to school to get that degree or certification you’ve always wanted or finally finishing that old-school car you’ve been rebuilding. Just make sure your goal is meaningful and in line with your values and hobbies!

Feeling overwhelmed? Start small and choose one thing from the list! Our families are counting on us to be emotionally healthy and psychologically strong. Much like on an airplane, in life we have to put on our own oxygen masks before we can realistically help others. This begins with taking our mental health seriously and being intentional about our well-being, which is the only way to become the best men and fathers we can be!

Michael Dickerson is a mental health professional with 13+ years of experience, including working at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services for a decade and serving on the Association of Training and Development Board. He’s also a seasoned trainer, keynote speaker and entrepreneur who founded and currently runs the Dickerson Consulting Group, The Spillover Effect podcast and the LinkedIn newsletter Open Mike. His ultimate mission? To help leaders create a culture of well-being so employees can uncover their strengths, find meaning and flourish at work.

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