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Advocating for Men’s Mental Health Month in 2024

In today’s fast-paced world of instant gratification, men often find themselves caught in the relentless pursuit of chasing short-term pleasures, from alcohol and drugs to unhealthy relationships and risky behaviors. While society sells the notion that these quick fixes will bring happiness and fulfillment, these fleeting moments of satisfaction can quickly spiral into a cycle of dependency and self-destruction, masking deeper mental health issues that remain unaddressed. But what if there was a way to break free from this cycle and pave the way for long-term recovery and genuine happiness? 

In this conversation, Alex and Dr. Powers explore the principles of the 12-step program and how they can be transformative tools for managing anxiety and depression. They also discuss why men have difficulty showing their emotions and how to create a liberating environment for men to feel safe enough to be vulnerable with one another.

Normalizing the Conversation of Men’s Mental Health with Alex Palmer – Listen Now!

Get to Know Our Guest

Alex leads marketing and business development for Positive Recovery and is a passionate advocate for men’s mental health. He hosts the Fellowman Podcast and is working his way through grad school to eventually become a therapist working with men experiencing similar mental health challenges to those he’s worked through. In honor of the last week of Men’s Mental Health Month, let’s explore the interconnection of mental health, addiction recovery, and becoming your best self. 

Men’s Mental Health Month at a Glance

According to Thrive Works, Men’s Mental Health Month is observed every June, aiming to raise awareness about the unique mental health challenges men face and encourage them to take proactive steps to improve their mental well-being. The initiative started in 1994, as part of a broader movement to promote overall men’s health, including mental health issues often overshadowed by societal expectations of stoicism and self-reliance​.

During this month, various organizations and communities engage in activities such as health education campaigns, screenings, and discussions to break the stigma and provide support for men’s mental health​.

Exchanging Short-Term Pleasures for Long-Term Recovery

One of the critical discussions during Men’s Mental Health Month focuses on exchanging short-term pleasures for long-term recovery. Many men find themselves in a pattern of seeking instant gratification through alcohol, drugs, and/or other risky behaviors. These quick fixes might provide temporary “relief” but ultimately lead to a cycle of dependency and self-destruction.

Alex and Dr. Powers highlight the importance of addressing the root causes of mental health issues rather than resorting to temporary fixes. This involves understanding the underlying emotional pain and finding healthier ways to cope. 

As mentioned in the episode, the 12-step program – a structured approach to understanding and managing these problems- offers self-reflection, accountability, and community support tools. The 12-step program helps individuals recognize the impact of their actions on themselves and others, fostering a sense of responsibility and a commitment to change. By working through each step, men can build a solid foundation for long-term recovery, moving away from short-term pleasures and towards a more fulfilling and sustainable lifestyle.

Why Healthy, Supportive Relationships Are Crucial for Men’s Mental Health: 

Healthy, supportive relationships are pivotal in maintaining mental health and a positive outlook on life. Both men and women benefit from support communities, but for men, expressing their feelings can be a daunting task. Many men feel isolated in their experiences due to societal beliefs and childhood upbringing. The struggle is real for men who grew up in households where raw, genuine emotion was not shown or allowed to be expressed, other than anger. This upbringing often makes it challenging for men to show up in their relationships as adults – whether it’s with their spouse and children, colleagues, or other male friendships. 

Supportive relationships provide emotional security and a sense of belonging, which are essential for mental well-being. Friends, family, and support groups can offer encouragement, understanding, and practical advice, helping men navigate their mental health challenges. The benefits of creating a network of supportive relationships are immense-it can significantly enhance men’s ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. We all need strong social connections that can help us heal from challenges and even partake in celebrating our successes. As Dr. Powers and Alex share, having strong men in their lives who can help hold them accountable and encourage honesty and real emotion has allowed them to heal from past traumas. 

Therapeutic Healing Properties of Spending Time in the Wilderness

Spending time in nature has been shown to have numerous therapeutic benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. For men struggling with mental health issues, incorporating wilderness therapy into their recovery process can be incredibly beneficial. As Alex and Dr. Powers share, something about being out in nature reminds us of who we are at our core. Being surrounded by nature and a community we can link arms with has shown significant healing properties. 

Nature therapy, or ecotherapy, involves engaging in outdoor activities that promote mental and physical well-being. Activities such as hiking, camping, and nature walks can provide a sense of peace and perspective, helping to alleviate mental health symptoms and promote overall well-being. Nature’s therapeutic properties stem from its ability to reduce the sensory overload of modern life, allowing individuals to connect with themselves and their surroundings more deeply. For men (and women!) this means less time spent online and in the digital world and more time focusing on the present moment. 

According to a recent article from Mayo Clinic, spending time in nature can improve mood, lower anxiety, and enhance cognitive function. Engaging with nature helps to manage stress by regulating the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s stress responses. Regular exposure to natural environments can lead to a lower risk of chronic disease and improved mental health outcomes​.

Furthermore, research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health highlights that green spaces promote better mental health and decrease the risk of psychiatric disorders, achieved through a combination of sensory stimulation and a break from urban overstimulation, leading to mental restoration and increased positive emotions​.

For those who might not have easy access to vast natural spaces, it’s important to note that even spending time in urban parks or gardens can provide significant mental health benefits. Simple activities like walking in a local park, sitting under a tree, or gardening can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being​ . This accessibility of nature therapy ensures that everyone, regardless of their location, can benefit from it.

Loved This Conversation? We’ve Got More Like This One!

If you loved this conversation and want to learn more about men’s mental health month, and the interconnection of mental health and addiction recovery, you can listen to the full episode, or you can connect with Alex Palmer on LinkedIn!

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