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I have been providing mental health services to men, women, and families since 1968. Like many mental healthcare providers, my desire to help others began in my family. When I was five years old, my mid-life father took an overdose of sleeping pills. He had become increasingly depressed because he couldn’t make a living during what he loved to do to support his family.

Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. He was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital, north of where we lived in Los Angeles. The treatment available then was far worse than it is today. He didn’t get better. His mental health deteriorated, but the doctors told our family that he just needed more “treatment.”

I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and what I could do to prevent other families from suffering as we had. I graduated from college and was accepted into medical school in 1965. I thought I wanted to become a psychiatrist. On a conscious level, I wanted to help others like my father. On a deeper level I was terrified that I would become mentally ill and end up being locked up like my dad. I thought if I could get fully educated about mental health, I could keep mental illness from coming into my life.

Medical school at the time felt much too narrow to address all the inter-related physical, mental, emotional, relational, social, and spiritual problems that I knew someone with mental illness must address. I soon transferred from U.C. San Francisco Medical School to U.C. Berkeley School of Social Welfare where a wider range of problems were addressed and I joined a program that taught a more varied arsenal of interventions.

Like most new graduates with a professional degree, I began working in various healthcare settings. I began working at the mental hospital where I had done my most recent field placement, later I spent several years working in various settings helping people recover from a variety of addictions.

Over the last forty years I have worked in the emerging field of Gender-Specific Medicine where I have specialized in helping men and their families. Following the publication of my first book Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man in 1983, I launched MenAlive. I offer a variety of resources to help men and their families to live fully, love deeply, and make a positive difference in the world.

In weekly articles I share what I’ve learned from my professional practice over the last fifty-plus years. I also am open about what I have learned from addressing my own mental health issues. I call myself a “two-hatter.” One hat is the one I wear when I work with clients who come to me for help. The other hat is the one I wear when I am getting help with my own mental health challenges.

I wrote about my mental health journey in several my books including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, Stress Relief for Men, and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression.

I also write a weekly newsletter where I share articles that can help others. In one, “Being Bipolar: Living in a World of Fire and Ice,” I describe my own healing journey with mental illness.

“Most people don’t know I’m bipolar,”

I say in the article.

“After  years of loving kindness shown to me by my wife, therapy with a caring and skilling therapist, and medications to help keep me in balance, my illness is in remission.”

As I’ve learned over the years, both as a provider of mental health services and one seeking information and help to treat my own problems, finding good resources and help is not easy.

Let’s face it, we are living in crazy times, where the whole world seems angry, anxious, stressed, and depressed and things are getting worse. In 2018 the American Psychological Association surveyed a thousand U.S. adults about their sources and levels of anxiety. The APA found that 39% of Americans reported being more anxious than they were in 2017, and an equal amount (39%) had the same level of anxiety as the previous year. That’s nearly 80% of the population experiencing anxiety.

What are people most concerned about? The APA survey reported that:

  • 68% worried about health and safety.
  • 67% reported finances as their source of anxiety.
  • 56% were stressed about our political system and elections.

The APA also found that 63% of Americans felt that the future of the nation was a large source of stress. 59% checked the box that “the United States is at the lowest point they can remember in history.”

Clearly with statistics like these, we can no longer view “mental illness” as simply a problem of individuals. We are experiencing a problem of whole systems collapsing and we need to develop new systems to bring about repair. My colleague, Margaret J. Wheatley, author of the book, Who Do We Choose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership says,

“Our task is to create Islands of Sanity, both internally and within our sphere of influence, where sanity prevails, where people can recall and practice the best human qualities of generosity, caring, creativity, and community.”

WebShrink: Bringing Mental Health Seekers and Mental Health Providers Together

            I first learned about Webshrink when I received an email from Dr. Edward Bilotti. It began,

“Dear Jed, we need your help.”

As you know from reading thus far, I’m all about helping others. Dr. Bilotti went on to say:

“When it comes to mental health, the internet can be a crowded and confusing place for those seeking answers. People need a place where they’ll find appropriate information and help. They need a safe place where the important work we do as mental health professionals is honored, and topics are presented respectfully.

“That’s why I founded Webshrink. The name might be a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the topic couldn’t be more serious. Webshrink’s mission is to:

  •  Be the go-to place for struggling individuals and their loved ones as well as professionals like you.
  • Provide accurate, trustworthy information that is easy to understand, fact-checked, and never pop-psychology-based.
  • Promote hope and positivity by giving voice to those who want to share their stories.
  • Make it easy and safe for clients and professionals to connect and communicate online.”

When I finished reading Dr. Bilotti’s letter I knew I needed to learn more. I reached out to him and asked if he would be interested in doing an interview for my blog. He agreed and you can watch the full interview here.

After talking to him in person, I realized he is for real. He’s a man on a mission and the mission is one that is near and dear to my heart and soul. If you’re a health care provider, you will find Dr. Bilotti to be a kindred spirit who is in the business of helping other health care providers like yourself. If you are a seeker of health care and want to get the latest, most accurate, information that can help you make good decisions about your health, you will also find a caring community at Webshrink. If you are a “two-hatter” like me, you will find much that will interest and excite you.

Being a health care provider I was interested in some of the things Webshrink is planning to offer us. Dr. Bilotti detailed a few new things planned for later this year:

  • HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform designed for mental health.
  • A complete, searchable medication database.
  • Secure, private messaging between therapists and clients.
  • Online scheduling.
  • More resources and clinical tools for therapists.

I decided to join and hope you’ll consider joining as well. Here are the main reasons I think Webshrink is a community worth joining:

  • I believe in the mission to create a community of mental health Seekers and Providers.
  • I believe in the man behind the mission, Dr. Ed. Bilotti.
  • The cost is extremely reasonable: $4/month, $40/year, $100/Lifetime (and you get a free month to try it out. Can’t beat that).
  • Plus, Dr. Bilotti is offering all providers a $25 gift certificate to Amazon if you join by March 30, 2024. (He told me he wants to encourage people to buy one of my books, but you can spend it anyway you want.)

If you want to get more information and consider joining this worthwhile movement you can learn about listing your practice here.

And if you want to see what a listing looks like you can check out my own at https://tinyurl.com/WebshrinkDrJed.

Plus, if you liked this article and would like to get a free E-Copy of my latest book Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity, send an email to: Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Webshrink book offer” in the subject line. It is my 17th book and some say, it’s my best.

The post The Future of Mental Health: Bringing Together Health Seekers and Providers appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Future of Mental Health: Bringing Together Health Seekers and Providers
Sourced From: menalive.com/the-future-of-mental-health-bringing-together-health-seekers-and-providers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-future-of-mental-health-bringing-together-health-seekers-and-providers
Published Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2024 00:45:03 +0000

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The Future of Men’s Mental Health

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Photo by drew_hays / Unsplash.com

Part 1 — Men and Mental Health, What Are We Missing?

I have been interested in men’s mental, emotional, and relational health for a long time. When I was five years old my mid-life father became increasingly irritable, angry, and depressed because he felt he couldn’t support our family, my mother and me, doing the work he loved. In desperation he took an overdose of sleeping pills to stop the pain. Fortunately, he didn’t die, but our lives were never the same. He was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital.

My father had been an actor in New York and moved to California with the hopes of working in the emerging movie and television industry. But like many creative artists of the period he ran into the “red scare,” was blacklisted, and couldn’t find work. His time in the mental hospital only made him worse. I grew up wondering what happened to my father, when it would happen to me, and how I could prevent it from happening to other families.

After graduating from college I was accepted into U.C. San Francisco Medical School with hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. I hoped to learn and develop the skills to help men like my father as well as the families who love them. However, medicine, at the time, was too restrictive for me and I transferred to U.C. Berkeley where I earned my Master of Social Work Degree. My initial interest focused on addiction medicine, but I soon expanded my work to include Gender-Specific Medicine and men’s health. I later returned to school and earned a PhD in International Health. My dissertation research was published as a book: Male vs. Female Depression: Why Men Act Out and Women Act In.

Following the birth of our first son, Jemal, in 1969 and daughter, Angela, in 1972, I launched MenAlive.com as my window to the world to house my books, articles, and on-line programs. I’ve had seventeen books published including international best-sellers Male Menopause and The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression, as well as trend-setting books including Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions, The Warrior’s Journey Home: Healing Men, Healing the Planet, Stress Relief for Men, and Long Live Men! The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope to Humanity.

The field of gender-specific healing and men’s mental health has grown considerably since I began in 1972. I estimate that there are now at least a thousand organizations that focus on various aspects of men’s health. In 2021, I invited several colleagues who were doing great work to join me in what I called my Moonshot Mission for Mankind and Humanity. We began meeting monthly to get to know each other, share ideas, and create an on-line hub to bring individuals and organizations together to help men live fully healthy lives.

            With the help and support of one of our founding members, Joe Conrad, Founder and CEO of Man Therapy, we developed a website and introductory film at MoonshotforMankind.com.  I believe that men are both the “canaries in the coalmine” alerting us to the problems faced by humanity and also they are the key players in solving the problems that undermine the health of all. The Moonshot site shares our vision and call to connect:

“The journey to heal humanity has begun.”

Our Moonshot vision can be summarized simply:

“We believe man’s mental, emotional, and relational health is the key to empowering men to live long and well. Our mission is to help men live healthier, happier, more cooperative lives—fulfilling lives of purpose and productivity, where men are supported and valued as they make positive contributions to their families, friends, and communities. When that happens, families grow stronger, communities prosper, and humanity takes its next leap forward.”

Men and Mental Health: What Are We Missing?

            According to report by Derek M. Griffith, PhD, Ayo Ogunbiyi, MPH, and Emily Jaeger, MPH at Georgetown University’s Center for Men’s Health Equity,

Men aren’t the problem. The way that we — society as a whole and health care providers specifically — treat them is.”

In an April 2, 2024 article titled “Men and mental health: What are we missing?,” they detail a number of important issues that we often fail to address including the following:

  • It is time that primary care physicians, mental health service providers, and policymakers look critically at the accuracy and utility of their assumptions and explanations for men’s rates of depression, anxiety, burnout, substance abuse, and other common mental health conditions.
  • 40% of men with a reported mental illness received mental health care services in the past year, compared with 52% of women with a reported mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the crisis of men’s mental health.
  • The uncertainty of the pandemic, loneliness from social distancing, financial stresses, relationship challenges, and other contextual factors contributed to increased rates of men having difficulty sleeping, alcohol and substance use, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
  • Traditionally, men are socialized to define their worth by their ability to contribute economically to a household. However, as the labor market has shifted away from traditionally male-dominated jobs, men must now redefine their worth outside of their employment, income, and home.
  • The notion of “precarious manhood,” which is the belief that manhood is an achieved social status that must be earned and constantly defended, means that men may feel it is their character — rather than their behavior — being judged during more tumultuous economic times.
  • Even when men seek care, that care often falls short. Data from Canada and the United States found that more than 60% of men who died by suicide had accessed mental health care services within the previous year.
  • When men do seek mental health care services, it is not uncommon for them to feel that providers mislabel and underestimate their needs, and that these providers do not seem to have a genuine interest in their problems.
  • The fact that men are diagnosed with depression at lower rates than women, despite their higher rates of suicide, substance use, and violent behavior, suggests that more could be done to improve the tools used to diagnose men with depression.
  • While some mental health care service providers may be gender sensitive and recognize the ways that aggressiveness, alcohol use, and risky behavior are part of the presenting symptoms men with depression may exhibit, there are few courses and trainings that focus on gender differences in mental health, potentially leading to mental health care service providers being less equipped to serve and offer gender-sensitive resources to men.

We need a new approach for addressing men’s mental health issues. In the second part of this series, I will address the reality that men’s mental health issues don’t just impact men. They impact everyone. If you’d like to read more articles like these, please visit me at MenAlive.com and receive our free newsletter with new articles and tools you can use to improve your mental, emotional, and relational health.

The post The Future of Men’s Mental Health appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Future of Men’s Mental Health
Sourced From: menalive.com/the-future-of-mens-mental-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-future-of-mens-mental-health
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 23:33:29 +0000

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Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way

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If you read most first aid guides, the last step in treating someone who’s gotten injured or sick is always: get the victim to professional medical help.

But what if you found yourself in a situation where hospitals were overcrowded, inaccessible, or non-functional? What if you found yourself in a grid-down, long-term disaster, and you were the highest medical resource available?

Dr. Joe Alton is an expert in what would come after the step where most first aid guides leave off. He’s a retired surgeon and the co-author of The Survival Medicine Handbook: The Essential Guide for When Help is NOT on the Way. Today on the show, Joe argues that every family should have a medical asset and how to prepare to be a civilian medic. We discuss the different levels of first aid kits to consider creating, from an individual kit all the way up to a community field hospital. And we talk about the health-related skills you might need in a long-term grid-down disaster, from burying a dead body, to closing a wound with super glue, to making an improvised dental filling, to even protecting yourself from the radiation of nuclear fallout.

Resources Related to the Podcast

  • AoM Article: How to Use a Tourniquet to Control Major Bleeding
  • AoM Article: The Complete Guide to Making a DIY First Aid Kit
  • AoM Article: How to Suture a Wound
  • AoM Article: What Every Man Should Keep in His Car
  • AoM Article: Improvised Ways to Close a Wound
  • AoM Podcast #869: The Survival Myths That Can Get You Killed With Alone Winner Jim Baird

Connect With Joe Alton

  • Doom and Bloom website
  • Doom and Bloom on YouTube
  • Doom and Bloom on FB

Cover of "the survival medicine handbook," featuring a red first aid kit on a road under a stormy sky, by Joseph Alton MD and Amy Alton APRN.

Listen to the Podcast! (And don’t forget to leave us a review!)

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: Podcast #983: Grid-Down Medicine — A Guide for When Help Is NOT on the Way
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/health/podcast-983-grid-down-medicine-a-guide-for-when-help-is-not-on-the-way/
Published Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2024 12:37:37 +0000

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How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life

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Photo by spiritvisionstudios / Unsplash.com

“Human beings are creatures of belonging which we achieve through three marriages. First, through relationship with other people and other things (particularly and very personally, to one other person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves.” David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship.

For more than fifty years I have helped people achieve success in all three kinds of relationships. Like many I married young. My wife and I were together for ten years and had two children before our marriage broke up. After a time of pain and healing, I fell in love again, and remarried. Looking back, I can see that one was a rebound relationship and it too ended.

Endings are painful for everyone, but when you’re a marriage and family counselor who makes his living helping fix relationships, it is not only painful, but shameful as well. I talk about it on my website, MenAlive.com in an introductory video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” Fortunately, I got my own help, worked through unhealed trauma from my past, and learned what it truly takes to have a successful marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been happily married for forty-four years.

            We all want a life that is happy and joyful, but how to achieve success is not often clear and easy.

“If you have to make one life choice, right now, to set yourself on the path to future health and happiness, what would it be?”

This question was asked by two world-renowned social scientists, Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD.

Dr. Waldinger is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study on Adult Development. Dr. Schultz is the associate director. The Harvard Study is the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted. It began in 1938 and offers the most scientifically supported guidance for achieving a great life.

The latest findings are reported in Waldinger’s and Schulz’s book, The Good Life: Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. In a 2007 survey, millennials were asked about their most important life goals. Seventy-six percent said that becoming rich was their number one goal. Fifty percent said a major goal was to become famous. More than a decade later, after millennials had spent more time as adults, similar questions were asked again. Fame was now lower on the list, but top goals again included things like making money, having a successful career, and becoming debt-free.

            What does the data from thousands of interviews over eighty-six years tell us? If we want a great life what is the one thing that is more important than others? The answer can be stated in three simple words: Create Good Relationships.

“In fact, good relationships are significant enough that if we had to take all eighty-six years of the Harvard Study,”

say Drs. Waldinger and Schulz,

“and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a wide variety of other studies, it would be this:

Good Relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period.”

The Three Marriages We Must Embrace to Have a Successful Life

            In his book The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte says,

“Despite our use of the word “marriage” only for a committed relationship between two people, “in reality everyone is committed consciously or unconsciously to three marriages.”

            Whyte goes on to say,

“There is that first marriage, the one we usually mean, to another; that second marriage, which can so often seem like a burden, to work or vocation; and that third and most likely hidden marriage to a core conversation inside ourselves. We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and, as I wish to illustrate, they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.”

For most of my life I tried to find a balance between my work life and my love life. The truth is that I was much better at work than I was at love. It is not surprising. I had my first job when I was seven years old. My father had left when I was five, committed to a mental hospital after taking an overdose of sleeping pills because he had become increasingly stressed and depressed because he couldn’t make a living to support my mother and me.

With my father gone, my mother had to find work outside the home. We had little money beyond what was needed for the essentials, so I learned early to work for anything I truly wanted. I got good at work, but like many who grew up without a father and mother at home, what I learned about having a healthy and happy married life was minimal and I was too busy hustling for my next job success to have time to wonder about what it meant to get to know my true self.

For too many of us we feel like we are going up and down on a teeter-totter with our work and love lives competing for our attention while our personhood often gets neglected and forgotten. David Whyte offers us all a great service when he suggests this basic reality:

“Each of those marriages, is at its heart, nonnegotiable. We should give up the attempt to balance one against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning, or emboldening the other two.”

            With the framework of the three marriages, we can ask ourselves where we might need improvement. Here’s a little scale I find useful.

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How would you rate yourself in all five areas? I feel successful in all five areas, but it has been a lifelong process of healing and learning. I still have a way to go yet, like all of us. My score was 24. How about yours?

Bringing It All Together

For me, I have come to see achieving success at the three marriages as a true hero’s journey, one that lasts a lifetime. My wife, Carlin, is part Native American. In our area, there are several women who weave beautiful baskets made out of local materials that grow in nature. A well-known basket weaver described a well-made basket as a metaphor for creating a great life.

            Here’s how she describes the process.

“Our life is a basket woven from many different strands, each essential for a strong container. Each part of our life is one strand in this basket.It’s impossible to weave multiple strands at the same time; we need to attend to the strand that requires our attention without losing awareness of the others. Every strand will get our attention—just not all at the same time. I know I give attention to where I am most needed, knowing that I will then move on to the next demand. The basket holds my life as I strengthen individual strands. I’m no longer on a teeter-totter—I am weaving my life into something whole and lovely.”

When I reflect on my own life, there are times when I must focus on my wife, Carlin, knowing that there are other parts of my life that will require my attention at another time. At other times, one of our five children or seventeen grandchildren all for my attention. Yet, I can’t ever forget my work and my commitment to my calling. Running through all these “strands of my basket” is my commitment to my deepest self, getting to know who I really am and learning to love the man I am with all my flaws as well as my gifts.

I have written about how I have integrated these strands in the books I have written. If you are interested in learning about me and my work, I recommend, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, 12 Rules for Good Men, and Long Live Men: The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope for Humanity.

If you want to learn more about me and my relationship life, I recommend The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationship and Why the Best is Still to Come, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions.

If you would like to take one of my on-line courses, I recommend:

Navigating the 5 Stages of Love.

Healing the Irritable Male Syndrome.

Healing the Family Father Wound.

If you would like to join our mission to improve the lives of men and their families, I recommend:

The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.

If you would like to do individual or couple counseling with me, drop me a note at Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Counseling” in the subject line. I will send you the information. If you would like to receive my free weekly newsletter with updates and new articles, you can sign up here.

The post How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life
Sourced From: menalive.com/how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:02:04 +0000

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