“[Therapy] is no longer something that is speculative… we have lots of evidence that shows men and women benefit equally from mental health services.”
Photo by Kaitlin Fazio

In the United States, 6 million men suffer from depression, 3 million suffer from anxiety and men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

The National Institute of Mental Health’s statistics also indicate that men are less likely to recognize they are depressed and seek therapy than women. Moreover, mental health services and resources are accessible on campus at Wayne State for students of all gender identities and sexualities.

The Counseling and Psychological Services program provides counseling services to support student health, personal well-being and academic success.

Kirk Guanco, a full-time counselor at CAPS, sees many male students for depression and anxiety.

Guanco has noticed men experience more trouble reaching out for help when they experience emotional issues. He says that male clients may stigmatize mental health issues negatively, and it can be hard for them to open up.

“Traditionally and culturally for men, it always kind of been looked down upon, they might see it more as like a weakness,” Guanco says. “They might just need a little more coaching or normalizing what is going on in their experience.”

Guanco says only 36 percent of CAPS clients are male, but those that seek it out do benefit from therapy sessions.

At the WSU Psychology Clinic in the College of Education, assistant psychology professor Dr. Douglas Barnett says approximately 40 percent of their clients are male. However, the clinic services all people in the surrounding midtown community in addition to university students.

Barnett says differences in gender do play a role in mental health.

He explained depression in women appears to be twice as common than it is in men. Barnett says it is possible these discrepancies are skewed because men are more likely to avoid admitting to or addressing mental health problems.

“[In] men, for example, alcohol abuse problems are among twice as high in men than women and people think those are the missing depression [numbers] and they are self-medicating themselves with alcohol or other drugs,” Barnett says.

Guanco says anxiety and other types of panic disorders should be addressed to combat the immediate or physical reaction to stressors.

“Anxiety is feelings of uneasiness and panic, people can have panic attacks or they might have shortness of breath, feel dizzy or have difficulty concentrating,” Guanco says.

Depression, on the other hand, comes with variety of different symptoms that are not easily recognized if they or someone they know is depressed.

“Clinical depression is usually a period of two weeks or more when the person is feeling depressed, lethargic and down in the dumps for most of the time every day,” Barnett says. “It can also last much longer than that. Your average depressive episode can last somewhere between six months and two years.”

Barnett says depression in men can lead to changes in appetite, weight gain or loss and it interferes with work and relationships. He cites therapy as a good tool to combat these negative effects.

“Therapy is very effective at reducing stress and improving relationships, improving productivity, greater life satisfaction and greater peace of mind,” Barnett says. “[Therapy] is no longer something that is speculative… we have lots of evidence that shows men and women benefit equally from mental health services.”

Zack Smith, a 30-year-old fine arts major says he benefited greatly from therapy. Smith suffers from depression and has been taking antidepressants to cope for several years.

“It doesn't make everything perfect in life, still have your road bumps that you have to deal with,” Smith says. “I really do think I have a chemical imbalance.”

A few years back, Smith took a job in Chicago where he felt alienated and depression started affecting his life. Since seeking treatment, he says he finds himself in a better place now as a student at WSU.

“It is rough out there, life’s hard sometimes and I think people in our generation face a lot of problems that can be very depressing.” Smith says. “I did talk with a therapist for about an eight to ten-week period and benefited.”

Since Aug. 24, the CAPS offices have moved from the Thompson House back to the Student Center. Visit them in room 552 or online for more information. 

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