How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Fathers

Father with arm around son

Father’s Day is great time to celebrate the similarities that make us family, and differences that make us individuals. As kids, we looked to dad for strength and guidance in the face of life’s adversities. But who looked out for them?

For some fathers, stigma and toxic masculinity may have held them back from healing they desperately needed. In the United States, 6 million men suffer from depression. Men die by suicide over 3.5 times more than women. Yet only one in four seek help from a mental health professional.

The conversation is shifting, however, as mental health has been a highly discussed topic in 2018. The hope is that by addressing generational stigma around mental health, we can encourage men to seek the help they need. We asked our male therapists and coworkers how they view mental health differently than their fathers. Here’s what they had to say.

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MJ’s Story: Working Through Trauma of a Male Sexual Assault

Trans man standing by grey wall

My boyfriend and I lay in bed, his fingers twirling my chest hair as we talked about our plans for hysterectomies. I told him I saw the procedure as a safeguard against a worst case scenario. Hearing this, he looked so anguished, I nearly felt guilty.

“It makes me sad that you worry about that happening again” he said.

A few years ago, I told my 12-step sponsor about surviving sexual assault. He said we can’t resolve some experiences, we can only share our stories to help others realize they’re not alone. In other words, we can say, “me, too.”

Since getting sober in 2013, I’ve heard stories from several sexual assault survivors and I’ve told my own. Men don’t often discuss sexual assault or mental health, and while it’s not easy to share my story, I believe it’s crucial.

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Therapy Helped Me: Learn to Share My Feelings

Talkspace Therapy Helped Me

This post is part of our #TherapyHelpedMe series for Mental Health Awareness Month. Talkspace shares stories of how therapy helps people of all backgrounds work through the daily challenges of modern life.


Teenage years can be some of the most difficult and stressful times of our lives. With exam deadlines and social pressures, it can leave many of us struggling to focus and see a life outside of the school halls. There are many who are made for education, flying through their school years with ease, but for some of us, our mental health can be compromised.

I found myself often confused and unable to make decisions. I was always worrying about rejection and causing problems. Stress was consuming me. Although I had friends, a boyfriend, and a family, I still could not tell them the truth, or at least not the full truth. Choosing to begin therapy was the first time I had put myself first in a long time. The term “it feels like a weight has been lifted” really resonates with me.

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The New Rise of Celebrities Talking About Therapy

Brad Pitt on the red carpet

When I was a scared little 11-year-old going to therapy, I wished there were celebrities opening up about therapy who I could to relate to. As far as I knew, I was the only girl in the world who struggled with mental illness or saw a therapist. I lied to my friends about why I couldn’t hang out on Tuesday afternoons after school, because therapy seemed like the most taboo thing in the world to talk about.

Flash forward to 2018. There’s no shortage of headlines featuring celebrities sharing their stories about going to therapy. When these headlines first began popping up everywhere from E! News to Vogue, I couldn’t help but be bitter. Why was it okay for famous people to talk so openly about therapy, but it’s still so stigmatized for regular people to open up about seeing a therapist?

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How To Ask For Help with Mental Health Care

Woman looking away surrounded by helpful hands

When I first saw a therapist at age 19, I hated the idea. Less than a year out of a sexually abusive relationship with a predatory high school teacher, I was determined not to let that affect me. I wasn’t “crazy” and I wasn’t weak. I didn’t need help, and I wouldn’t ask for help. Most of all, I didn’t want my parents to know I struggled — that would require vulnerability — and I wasn’t about to let anybody in. I could manage on my own.

Meanwhile, I wrote long anonymous emails back and forth with an organization called Samaritans all the way over in the U.K., because I wanted to die, I self-injured regularly, and I simply couldn’t imagine I had a future at all. As far as I was concerned, my life was already over. I desperately wanted to feel better, but if I asked for help, I thought I would be giving up.

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Checking in on Your Mental Health Resolutions

compass facing a lake at sunset

We are several weeks into 2018 and this is as good as time as any to check in with yourself about your mental health goals. It can be difficult to begin and maintain progress through your goals, especially this time of year, as we all try to regain our footing with our day-to-day schedules and responsibilities.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to take some time to reflect and re-group to see where you are with your mental health resolutions. Taking time to assess your progress is an invaluable part of the goal-setting process. Moving forward takes routine, evaluation, and consistent checking in.

So, how are you doing with your goals? Here are a few questions that you may want to begin by asking yourself.

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How Therapists Keep Their Clients Accountable

Coffee cup and calendar for accountability

Working with a therapist is one of the best things that you can do to better your mental health. It is a highly individualized process and can look different from person to person. This is what makes therapy feel so safe and productive for so many people.

At the same time, there often comes a time when you’re working on particular goals in therapy and need to be held accountable for making progress. Staying on task, and being accountable for your progress, is an important part of the therapy process — but it can be tricky territory when you need help staying on track. Some people may feel ashamed to ask for help, others may be resistant to the thought of being held accountable.

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4 Surprising Reasons People Who Aren’t Mentally Ill Go to Therapy

therapist with notepad and client on couch

What would be your initial reaction if a friend said, “I can’t meet up. I have to go to therapy.”? Chances are your mind would jump to questions like:

  • Do they have a mental illness?
  • Is their marriage falling apart?
  • Are they recovering from addiction?
  • Are there underlying family abuse or emotional issues?

None of these are particularly positive. In fact, any variation of the word “therapy” tends to lead to an unfairly negative connotation. There are dozens of different forms of therapy, however, ranging from psychodynamic therapy for depression to existential therapy for helping people find meaning in life. While many approaches are designed to relieve the suffering of those with various disorders, there are a handful of forms of therapy that are geared toward simply improving everyday living situations. Continue reading 4 Surprising Reasons People Who Aren’t Mentally Ill Go to Therapy

4 Reasons to Try Therapy at Least Once

male therapist woman client couch

Going to therapy isn’t a subject many people can talk about comfortably, work must be done to keep trying to normalize mental health care. Managing crises or mental illnesses is only one part of psychotherapy. It’s about admitting that sometimes we need help to become the best version of ourselves and live a happier life.

If you haven’t tried working with a therapist yet, you might find that it could benefit you. Here are four reasons why you should give therapy a shot at least once.

1. Unbiased Advice

If you already talk with friends or family about problems in your life and get advice from them, that’s great! It’s healthy to have a group of loved ones to vent to, but they might not be giving the best advice. To ensure you can trust what someone’s telling you about a situation, speak with a therapist who’s emotionally removed from the situation. They’ll help you see the bigger picture and decide how to move forward strategically from there. Continue reading 4 Reasons to Try Therapy at Least Once

The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy

man holding smartphone on couch

The majority of clients at Talkspace are trying therapy for the first time. With only online therapy as a frame of reference, they can’t draw comparisons to in-person treatment. This fact demonstrates, however, that online therapy removes barriers — high cost and inconvenience — that typically deter people from seeking professional mental health support.

Nonetheless, many users have extensive experience inside a therapist’s office. Some commuted to weekly therapy sessions for years before switching to online therapy. Others have continued their in-person treatment and used Talkspace as a complimentary service.

To illustrate what it is like to navigate the differences between in-person and online therapy, we surveyed our clients who had been open about their experiences with both. Here is what they taught us: Continue reading The Experience of In-Person Versus Online Therapy