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5 Ways To Get Him To Open Up About His Mental Health

5 Ways To Get Him To Open Up About His Mental Health

Whether he’s your partner, father, son, or friend, it’s all too common that men avoid discussing their feelings. He might feel like he’s burdening others by sharing problems, judged for picking up an antidepressant at the pharmacy, or uncomfortable sharing his personal stories with a therapist.

There’s strong evidence that men suffer from mental health conditions at similar rates as women, but they do not seek help as often. In fact, 4 out of 5 deaths by suicide are men. Welcoming a conversation about mental health with the man in your life is the best place to start. You don’t need any special training to initiate the discussion. Simply consider a few of these prompts to keep the lines of communication open. 

Share the Differences You’ve Noticed

Mental health challenges are not always as obvious to detect as physical ones. But changes in behavior, mood, and energy are good indicators that there’s a problem. Prompt the man in your life to open up by simply stating the observation.

  • “You seem a little upset lately, what’s up?”
  • “Have you felt more tired than usual? Are you sleeping okay?
  • “Is work still going well? You seem a bit stressed.”

By noticing a simple change, you can show your concern without making assumptions that could cause him to feel defensive or cornered. For men who have a hard time talking directly about their feelings, this can be an effective way to work toward the emotional part of an issue by talking about surrounding factors first.

Lift Tension by Doing Two Things at Once

Many men feel uncomfortable in the hot seat: A direct confrontation might push him away further. To avoid the heat of what he might perceive as an intervention, spark up a conversation casually while you’re on a walk, doing a home project together, or during a casual drive.

Man and Woman Walking

Walking kills two birds with one stone. It’s a way to lighten the tension of a vulnerable conversation, and walking itself has been proven to relieve stress, improve cognition, and decrease feelings of anxiety and depression.

Be a Friend, Don’t Mend

You don’t have to fix his problems; acknowledging his struggles and being present will mean a lot.

It can be difficult to open, especially if you think the person you’re talking to won’t understand. Remember what he’s going through is real to him, and be the supportive friend you’ve always been. When you acknowledge how difficult it must feel, keep an open ear, and do not dismiss or attempt to solve his problems, you are moving mountains by way of gaining his trust.


suicide rates by age

Remove Isolation by Sharing Your Own Struggles

Isolation is another reason why men bottle up how they feel. They don’t want to burden others with their problems, or they opt to ‘figure it out’ on their own to avoid feeling awkward, weak, singled out, or different. Phrases like “tough it out” and “crying is for girls” only exacerbate these perceptions some men have.

You can help to dismantle these stereotypes about “toughness” by sharing your own mental health experiences.

  • “After the baby was born, I remember wanting to disassociate much more than I ever had. I should have felt joyful but I felt sadness, then shame. I recognize this was depression and it’s really common after pregnancy.”
  • “Last time I was tossing and turning at night, it was because I had so much on my plate that I couldn’t turn my brain off. Do you think that could be what’s happening?”
  • “Talking to my mom really helped me feel better about how my siblings treated me. I was so angry but I can see a bit more from their perspective now.”

 By sharing your own experience, you not only help to normalize the subject of mental health but you also help the other person feel safe and understood.

Ask Him Again

What’s the first thing he will say if you confront him? “I’m fine.”

According to a 2019 survey of men in the UK, only 75% of men would openly tell their friends if they were struggling with their mental health, with the majority preferring to make up an excuse.

This data shows that, despite 64% of men considering themselves to be good communicators, mental health is still a difficult topic to discuss with just under half (42%) not wanting to seem a burden to their friends.

Concerns like doubting whether people really want to hear the honest answer and not wanting to burden others were cited as the main reasons people avoided these conversations. However, that second ask might be the prompt he’s been waiting for to finally talk about it. It shows him that you are genuinely interested and present.

It’s important to speak up and fight against stigma for the mental health of the men in your life. Mental health is important for everyone, and we should all remember to keep the door open to the people we care about most. If the man in your life is willing to seek help, we have a variety of primary care providers across all ages, genders, and backgrounds. View our providers here and schedule an initial visit at clinics throughout Northern Utah or using Telemedicine.