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Why men shy away from psychologists

Reasons for men shying away from doctors, counsellors or psychologists vary.

Henning Jacobs, trauma support co-ordinator at ER24, said that men are often too embarrassed to consult a professional.
“In addition to assuming that a visit to a doctor is not necessary if symptoms experienced are ‘minor’, men tend not to visit a doctor because they are either ‘too busy’, want to avoid bad news or find it embarrassing when doctors have to do a check-up.”
He added that, generally, men who experience financial difficulties or struggle to provide for their families believe that they are failing in their duties.
Failure is one of the worst fears that men have. The thought of being a failure is a fear so bad that they are hesitant to talk about it. A number of men do not speak about their problems or seek assistance due to males historically being perceived and raised by society to be strong and independent as well as providers and protectors.
“Men fear being perceived as weak. They believe that they must be able to handle anything because that is what men do in order to succeed. As a result, they choose to keep quiet about problems they are encountering rather than seek help,” said Jacobs.

Signs to look out for
There are instances where family members suspect that something is wrong but are unable to determine for sure. There are also instances where family members are completely unaware.
Jacobs said some signs family and friends can look out for include:
* Angry outbursts. Generally, when men struggle to cope with problems, they keep it bottled up. Usually, when they can no longer deal with these problems, they express themselves through anger or irritation.
* Change in personality or behaviour. Personality changes or changes in behaviour is also a common sign of a man who is struggling to cope with something. If men start to withdraw from close friends or choose to stay at home more than they used to, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
* Loss of interest. Men who do not want to participate in things they usually love doing, for example, watching sport.
* Choice of words. Men might drop subtle lines such as “It is not worth living anymore”, “What is the use of living?” or “Let’s put an end to all of this”.
Jacobs said if a family member suspects a loved one is struggling to cope with something, they should approach them with other family members and not alone.
A wife for example, can approach her husband in the company of their children.
“They should express their concerns with love and not anger. Men need to hear that they are loved. Urge them to seek help and support them throughout the process,” said Jacobs.

What should men do
Men with emotional or financial problems should choose one or two people that they trust to talk to. In case of financial problems, men should also seek professional help in the form of debt counselling or legal advice. When men do not have anyone they believe can trust, they should speak to a counsellor.

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