Man Therapy combats high suicide rate among Utah men, helps men maintain mental health the ‘manly way’

Screenshot from ManTherapy.org | Image courtesy of ManTherapy.org, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY — Adult men represented approximately three of every four suicide deaths in Utah in 2014, and a statewide campaign launched Monday by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition aims to erase the stigma surrounding mental health for working-aged men.

Man Therapy reshapes the conversation, using humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues like depression, divorce and even suicidal thoughts head-on, “the way a man would do it.”

Man Therapy provides men approaching crisis, and the people who care about them, a place to go and learn more about men’s mental health, examine their own mental health and consider a wide array of actions that will put them on the path to treatment and recovery, all within an easy-to-access online portal.

The campaign brings to life a fictional character, Dr. Rich Mahogany, a man’s man who is dedicated to cutting through the denial and gives practical, useful advice for men.

“The straightforward and humorous approach of Man Therapy debunks the age-old stigma that says mental health disorders are an unmanly sign of weakness,” said Kimball Gardner, program director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Utah.

“The campaign’s racy humor may raise some eyebrows, but when it comes to preventing suicide among this hard-to-reach audience, we needed to try something out-of-the-box that is still research-based,” said Andrea Hood, suicide prevention coordinator with the Utah Department of Health. “We expect to see similar success to that of other states.”

Man Therapy was developed in Colorado and is now available in Idaho, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. To date:

  • More than 85,000 men have taken the Man Therapy 18-point head inspection, a five-minute online quiz to assess a person’s mental health, and received their individualized results and suggestions for therapy
  • More than 25,000 men have clicked on the national suicide crisis line phone number provided on the site
  • More than 11,000 men have clicked to identify a counselor or therapist
  • 83 percent of website visitors would recommend Man Therapy to a friend in need
  • 60 percent of website visitors would definitely or very likely take action and use the information and strategies provided to seek help and improve their mental health

This campaign goes beyond just awareness to really engage men and draw them into the conversation,” said Kim Myers, suicide prevention coordinator with the Department of Human Services. “We feel it is critical to bring this important tool to Utah to reach both men and their loved ones. With Man Therapy, you can learn about mental health and the options to increase your mental health wellness range from do-it-yourself techniques all the way to professional therapy and resources.”

A total of 555 Utahns died from suicide in 2014. All suicidal thoughts, behaviors and attempts should be taken seriously. Get help 24/7 by calling the UNI CrisisLine at 801-587-3000 or the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at 1-800-273-TALK. Help is also available online.

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