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B.C. study debunks male depression

By Jane Deacon

A new study says men are open to talk therapy. (FOTOLIA)

A new study says men are open to talk therapy. (FOTOLIA)

We need to work on changing men’s attitudes about what it means to use mental health services. It doesn’t mean that they’re weak or flawed or different.

— Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, University of B.C.

A team of B.C. researchers has contested a common belief that men don’t want to talk about their feelings.

A recent study of 120 men seeking help for depression and anxiety found that 70% prefer psychotherapy such as counselling, while 27% would rather use medication as treatment.

For study lead Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, director of University of B.C.’s psychotherapy program, the results support anecdotal evidence he’s seen throughout his career. While there is a belief that men don’t like talk therapy, no data could be found to actually support that notion.

Results showed men often prefer the idea of talk therapy because it keeps them engaged in their treatment, as opposed to a loss of control sometimes associated with medication.

“Psychotherapy lets them stay in the driver’s seat,” said Ogrodniczuk.

As part of a greater scope of work on men’s mental health, the study’s authors see these results as a tool for breaking down social barriers that may keep men from seeking support services. With past assumptions, men may have felt reluctant to reach out for fear of breaking gender norms or not knowing where to turn.

The challenge is to encourage men to seek those services by changing attitudes about what it means to seek counselling.

“We know that if we can break through the psychological barrier that men have around help-seeking that they will use psychotherapy,” said Ogrodniczuk.


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