By: Logan Cohen, Professional Therapist & Online Life Coach
The photo above is of the late actor Heath Ledger soon before he died from an overdose of prescription drugs in 2008. Sure, he was a bit gaunt and pale, but nobody expected that the UBER-successful actor and heart-throb was privately struggling with mental health & insomnia to that degree.
Not too long after Heath Ledger passed away in 2008, a wave of successful celebrities - mostly Male (including Anthony Bourdain, Chris Cornell, & Robin Williams) - died by their own hands in a rapidly increasing group called "Deaths of Despair."
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) took notice of this trend and in reviewing the statistics, found that in recent years, Modern Society has seen the LARGEST jump in deaths related to suicide, alcohol, and drugs than EVER before in Modern Society.
The increase in deaths of despair has been so large among non-Hispanic whites between the ages of 45 and 54 that it has caused overall mortality in this group to rise since 1999 - The Center for Disease Control
Soon after these findings were released by the CDC, the American Psychological Association (APA) also noticed and in 2018, released a formal set of guidelines for healthcare practice with Men & Boys. It was evident that most of these deaths of despair were male and it was time for professional counselors and therapists to take note in their mental health practice - if they had not yet already.
By this time, I had specialized in male mental health specifically since working as a wilderness therapist with at-risk young Men in the Appalachian Mountains. After completing a Master's Degree in Family Therapy, I then continued to dedicate my clinical focus in this direction through the rest of my career as a mental health practitioner. Feel free to read more about that Journey here.
Over the last few decades, I have dedicated my life's work to seeking the answers to questions that would allow Men to live Healthy & Happy Lives with their most important Loved Ones - as we were destined.
When we go back through thousands of years of our ancestors, Men have been the primary Hunters & Warriors of Humankind - willing to risk our own Health & Well-Being "for the greater good." Over the years, those roles of Hunter & Warrior have evolved into Provider & Protector.
In Modern Society, Men are now expected to play a more flexible role, but how are supposed to learn how to do this? Who is offering to teach us? And will they teach us in a way we can learn, or will they call our sense of identity "toxic" - as is the case with the phrase "toxic masculinity" that was created by the APA.
We are NOT fans of this phrase and at the same time, MANY aspects of what we call "traditional manhood" from the "Old World" get us Men STUCK - then KEEPS us down with invisible pressure. The only way we can survive the hidden pandemic in male mental health is if we learn to break down the following barriers of traditional manhood:
Barriers of Male Mental Health
#1 Factor to Improving Male Mental Health - You can "Open Up" and still be "Independent"
When it comes to male mental health, a lot of problems are caused by our over-focus on "Independence". As Boys, we are taught that in order to be a "Real Man" we must learn to complete tasks on our own. The more we ask for help - or the more we rely on other People, the less we are allowed to believe that "we can handle it."
In many ways, Boys are taught that independence is a sign of strength that will put Self in the BEST position for getting resources and as a result - mate selection. However as a result, male mental health tends to suffer. This tends to make it INCREDIBLY hard for many Men to ask for help and risk looking "dependent", so commonly try to deal with the symptoms by taking medications/substances (whether these are pills, alcohol, or elicit drugs) to try an make the problems go away WITHOUT asking for help.
Barriers of Male Mental Health
#2 Factor to Improving Male Mental Health - Emotional Intelligence
As Boys, we learn that a "Real Man" keeps feelings to SELF. Anger and Happiness are allowed, but not "TOO happy" - or we risk getting called a homophobic slur. In general, Boys are taught that a Man worthy of respect should be "Stoic" - NEVER showing our true feelings, at risk of "giving away our Power" because we are seen as incapable of rational decision-making.
By learning to access a full range of Emotional Intelligence, Men are actually able to be a LOT "stronger" - practically speaking. We can use this emotional information to make sense of our own Personal Integrity, connect meaningfully with Loved Ones, and even help colleagues and peers feel "bought in" when it comes to working as a Team.
Even professional leadership and business development courses are using Emotional Intelligence because of its effective use from a management perspective. Our online life coaching for Men uses Emotional Intelligence as a Core Area of Balance in our Self-Guided Coaching Plans because this is our "Due North" that once we learn to follow, reinforces a natural balance with male mental health in our daily Life.
Barriers of Male Mental Health
#3 Factor to Improving Male Mental Health - Personal Integrity
In Modern Society, the male position of primary Provider is left-over from our old role as the primary Hunter. This is certainly a familiar role to our DNA, but the times are also changing. Around 100 years ago, Modern Society moved into an economic age of "Big Business", where productivity for The Man has prioritized above ALL else.
In the Old World, every Man got to keep a PERSONAL sense of Integrity. The farming communities where People used to live were made up of two main groups of free Men that LOVED their daily work because it was MEANT something REAL.
1) The Refined Authority Figure - made management decisions based on the "big picture"
2) The Talented Craftsman - worked in a skilled trade passed down through generations
Once Big Business took over and factories replaced family-owned shops, there was nowhere left for a Man's Personal Integrity to be in our daily life and instead, was replaced by the "integrity" of corporations, which is ONLY focused on PROFIT. Does this make more sense as to why your job starts to feel like a "hamster wheel"?
Our online life coaching for Men addresses this need in male mental health by supporting our clients in pushing past the old barriers and defining a central sense of Life's Purpose - based on a POTENT combination of Talents/Gifts, Natural Passions, and of course, your OWN Personal Integrity based on Core Values. Once we know WHERE & WHY we are going, it is MUCH easier to have a high level of motivation and EXECUTE - all while feeling like a Human Being.
My name is Logan Cohen and I am a Professional Therapist & Life Coach with over 10 years in the field of Counseling Psychology. I am a Clinical Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy, as well as the founder of New Leaf Counseling Group, LLC in Charlotte, NC. After spending tens of thousands of clinical hours with my own clients, starting a successful group practice, as well as a beautiful Family, I “picked my head up from the grindstone” to check in on childhood Friends & Loved Ones.
I painfully discovered that more than a few of my childhood Friends passed away at a young age from preventable health conditions and decided that as a Man, Husband, Father, and Friend, I could no longer stand by as People suffered in silence and self-destructed rather than ask for help. It doesn’t have to be like that and the holistic healing methods offered by the Balanced Man Plan is designed to help People “get unstuck” and break free from old patterns that are the barriers between Self & quality of Life.
The Balanced Man Plan is a therapeutic digital experience delivered through Self-Guided Coaching Plans created by a Male Therapist with the common barriers & strengths of Men in mind. The Balanced Man Plan has the goal of introducing a natural Balance back to Life so it is sustainable for the optimal Health & Well-Being of Self and Loved Ones - and ALL from the privacy and comfort of Home. If you have enjoyed what you see so far, check out our Self Guided Coaching Plans!