It’s mental health awareness week, so we want to take a look at areas of mental health that are important to us. One of the greatest tragedies facing our society at large is the astonishing suicide rate among young men. If a young man between the age of 21-49 dies, then the most likely cause of that death will be suicide.
Indeed, British men under the age of 35 are three and a half times more likely to die as a result of suicide than British women.
We will explore the myriad of factors as to what causes this in the future in this blog, as it is something that deserves a great amount of attention and requires deep analysis and consideration. But one of the most overtly obvious reasons for this is the lack of ability to be able to communicate. So what can be done to help men who are suffering from depression, anxiety or any other mental health issue?
One way, which is being sought after in increasing numbers, is online counselling, or online therapy. This is therapy that comes in the form of being done entirely online, and over the phone, using Skype, FaceTime, or other methods of online communication.
So what can online counselling do specifically to help stem this flood of lost life? Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it affords people relative anonymity. There are men who would just about feel comfortable enough meeting a therapist face to face to discuss their problems, safe in the knowledge that their friends, families and colleagues would not be able to find out . However, for others, this is simply not enough. These people cannot then be abandoned. It takes immense courage to undertake face-to-face therapy, and given the considerable amount of stress people suffering with mental health issues face, it is not surprising that a significant amount of people, and in particular young men, cannot go through with it. Therefore they need to be accommodated with online therapy. In addition to this, counselling can put men so far out of their comfort zone, that the added bonus of being able to undertake counselling in their own home could be the difference between them being able to fully open up, and get the therapeutic catharsis that counselling can bring or not being able to get the full advantages of something that is vitally important to their wellbeing.
By changing the norm of how we expect people going for counselling to communicate, that is, face to face, to online counselling, we give those who struggle to communicate a voice.
Is online counselling a solution or furthering the problem?
But is this not addressing the root of the cause? Surely this is just accommodating the avoidance of openly discussing mental health problems in males – which is what we have just identified as one of the main reasons why young men are committing suicide in astonishing numbers. By encouraging men to do something because of the advantage of being able to keep it a secret, are we not complicit in furthering this culture of silence that surrounds mental health? You could argue that yes, we are. But then so too it could be argue that education about drugs encourages usage, and that sex education encourages the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. And yet, sex education prevents teenage pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted disease. In countries like Portugal, the decriminilisation of drugs has seen a reduction in both crime, and death rates from drug use.
To apply those arguments to the situation surrounding men, mental health and their inability to communicate, we are in the situation that we are in, and as each day passes, more lives are being lost to this ongoing tragedy. Therefore, we must do everything we can to spread the word of the therapeutic catharsis that online counselling services can bring. But we cannot stop there, so too we must begin the dialogue amongst the male community to talk about mental health issues. Organisations like Rethink Mental Illness and the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) are making wonderful progress in this area, the longterm solution to this tragedy. Indeed, one day, talking about mental health issues amongst men will be deemed as ‘normal’ as talking about the weather. But until that day, we need something that can reach out to the men who simply cannot open up about their problems to anyone face-to-face, even a counsellor, let alone friends or family. And that branch of support, is online counselling.