Mental health services for men

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Darlene Pashak

MRC PONTIAC – Mental health has been in the news recently with Bell Let’s Talk day and Québec Suicide Prevention Week wrapping up February 10, presenting an opportunity to focus on local services and reasons to support men-specific
services.

Darlene Pashak

MRC PONTIAC – Mental health has been in the news recently with Bell Let’s Talk day and Québec Suicide Prevention Week wrapping up February 10, presenting an opportunity to focus on local services and reasons to support men-specific
services.
Dr. John Oliffe, Professor in the School of Nursing at UBC and head of the mental health research program conducts research on men’s depression. He says although women are diagnosed with depression twice as often as men, men are three times more likely to commit suicide. In the province of Québec, the highest suicide rates are for men between the ages of 45 and 64 years old; they are also the least likely to seek help.
Oliffe said men display symptoms of depression that are different than we expect: irritability, anger, alcohol use, over involvement in work and sports, and
sometimes violence. “Guys look inward for a remedy to depression, the most
common being self-medicating with alcohol,” he said. The goal is to help men reach for external help, which may include medication and/or strategies for self-management.  There is no typical ‘profile’ of a man at risk for depression or suicide; it can affect men across all ages and income levels. “No one is immune,” he said. “You can look successful and still be profoundly depressed.”
Why should we focus specifically on men? Oliffe explained it impacts positively on everyone around them, including women and children. His research provides evidence that community based services for men are effective, decreasing barriers to health care, because men are meeting in spaces that are familiar, non-threatening and have an understanding of the male experience. 
A depression self-test and loads of helpful resources for men and those who care about them are available on-line at headsupguys.org.
Locally, Tyler Ladouceur, Director of Autonhomme services for men in Campbell’s Bay concurs with the research; he has seen a variety of issues related to depression when men have accessed Autonhomme’s services.
When the Portage mill closed in 2009, the Pontiac CLSC provided start-up funds to develop a service for the affected employees. Most were men, and in concert with previous efforts to establish a social service for men, Autonhomme was born. The mandate is broad: housing services, communication groups for aggressive men and individual help ranging from personal support to filling out paperwork. “We see guys who have just turned 18 up to age 82; they are from all income levels too, middle class and even high-end earners.”
Anyone with a concern can call the centre at 819-648-2309, and if they can’t provide the service, they will find out who can. If you are concerned about a loved one, Autonhomme will receive those calls too, and provide information, even reaching out to the person of concern if they are willing. “The first step is the hardest” said Ladouceur, referring to making that call.