Unlocking the Hidden Back Door: Men Seeking Mental Health Support Matters!
Hello! I’m Maxi, a relationship counsellor and sex therapist who also spent one year working in the adult sex toy industry. I am a cisgender man and a part of the LGBTIQ+ community. If you couldn’t already tell by the title, I absolutely love metaphors! Especially sex metaphors that I can link in with mental health in a respectful way (see what I did in the title)? Adding levity when talking about sex and mental health can really help people to open up and work through things that might often feel heavy or serious.
I am Asian and I come from a country with a cultural belief that men should be tough, men should man up, men should not feel emotions; men should achieve their goals and become ‘successful’, and men should never seek help.
I believe that men often “do” rather than “feel”. For example, men can often forget to feel present during sex, and just go through the motions because of the intense pressure to achieve a fixed goal, like climaxing or a partner’s climax. Something that many people, in particular men, might have experienced, which is a goal-oriented route that can often detract from how we might feel in the moment. These ways of thinking can cause men to avoid seeking out support, to suppress their feelings and to overlook their mental health and wellbeing.
Why do we constantly hear about the male mid-life crisis? Why is it that statistically, men have a higher suicide rate?
These are the questions that play on my mind all the time. They're really important to address and to create safe spaces for vulnerable conversations amongst men when navigating these challenging topics.
Embracing discussions about men's mental health and encouraging seeking support might be seen as a threat to one's manhood in many societies, but let's debunk that myth right here, right now! Taking care of your mental health is a sign of strength, not weakness. Everyone's mental wellbeing matters!
“What can I get out of it?”
“Why would I do it?”
Addressing your mental well-being can feel like a daunting task. It's like navigating a labyrinth, trying to find your way through a maze of societal expectations and norms. But guess what? By acknowledging the importance of mental health, you're breaking free from those constraints and embracing your own personal growth. It’s hard to take the first step but sharing our feelings and seeking help is a courageous act. It's like drawing a map that others can follow, paving the way for more open conversations and dismantling harmful belief systems that can actually lead to more meaningful conversation and understanding.
When I was working in the sex toy industry, sometimes I would ask customers: “Have you ever tried prostate stimulation, like an anal plug, an anal vibrator?” Quite often the response would be: “Oh, I would never do that.” When chatting with men, I’d refer to their prostate as their “G spot”, just to help them understand that they have another pleasurable area to explore and if met with curiosity and they wanted to know more, it invited a wonderful opportunity to educate men on another pleasurable area to explore.
Sex is not only intercourse, or the penis in the vagina narrative, sex is much more than that. It can be playing with fantasies or role play, phone sex, exploring different erogenous zones, kinky activities, outercourse, and much, much more!
Picture this: just like exploring uncharted territory (hello prostate, lovely to meet you!), taking care of our mental health can be the same. You might be a bit hesitant at first as both scenarios can make us feel vulnerable, even provoke discomfort at the beginning. But remember, discomfort is not pain, sometimes it is just a feeling we probably did not expect or have never felt before. If it is pain, whether it’s your first time trying prostate stimulation or the first time in a therapist’s office to find mental health support, that’s when it’s time to say stop - don’t go any deeper and work on creating a safe space with aftercare and support. A mental health therapist can help you understand how to do this with your mental health, and a sex educator (like the folks at Passionfruit or your local sexologist) can help you understand how to work up to having pleasurable, comfortable and exciting prostate play.
Taking care of our mental health can be just like exploring uncharted territory (hello prostate, lovely to meet you!). You might be a bit hesitant at first as both scenarios can make us feel vulnerable, and even provoke discomfort at the beginning. But remember, discomfort is not pain, sometimes it is just a feeling we probably did not expect or have never felt before. Whether it’s your first time trying prostate stimulation or the first time in a therapist’s office to find mental health support, if there is pain that’s when it’s time to say stop. Don’t go any deeper and work on creating a safe space with aftercare and support. A mental health therapist can help you understand how to do this with your mental health, and a sex educator (like the folks at Passionfruit or your local sexologist) can help you understand how to work up to having pleasurable, comfortable and exciting prostate play.
Imagine a tree standing tall and strong, but its roots are hidden beneath the surface. Your mental health is like those roots, providing stability and nourishment. By nurturing your mental well-being, you're actually strengthening your overall resilience and ability to face life's challenges.
Many of my male clients have said:
“Pheww, you know what? I was super anxious and nervous, but just letting it all out? I feel much better. Much lighter”.
Building a supportive network of friends, family, or like-minded individuals who understand the importance of mental health can be invaluable. Together, we can challenge outdated beliefs and create a safe space where vulnerability is celebrated. By recognising the value in prioritizing our mental well-being, we can rewrite the narrative and create a cultural shift where we encourage and empower one another to seek support.
There are incredible resources available that can be specifically tailored to your needs and cultural background. Whether it's seeking support from psychologists, counselors, therapists, community organizations, or online platforms that understand the unique challenges you may face, don't hesitate to research and reach out. Remember, you are not alone on this journey.
Here are some helpful resources for you, your friends and your community.
Yarning Safe and Strong
Through Victorian Aboriginal Health Services for Mob mental health services within and community driven, access to counseling services and a 24/7 line.
Men’s Shed Association
A Community organization that engages connection and mental well being through collective projects and skill sharing for a broad age spectrum of men. Using group participation to encourage conversation and bonding for a demographic of men that often do not have access to positive encouragement of prioritizing emotional and mental connection.
For connecting people to additional services of support
For immediate contact phone line.
Thorne Harbour Health
For community accessing sexual health services