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Promoting psychotherapy to men: Discussion and experimental design practice

sue_frantz
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Men in the United States are four times more likely to die by suicide than are women (Curtin et al., 2022), and men are almost half as likely to receive mental health treatment than are women (Terlizzi & Norris, 2021). This is seriously problematic, as pointed out by a December 2022 New York Times article (Smith, 2022).

In the Intro Psych therapy chapter, share the above statistics with students. Ask your students to discuss in small groups why they think men are less likely to receive mental health treatment. (While what is described here is for a face-to-face class, the discussion can be adapted for asynchronous discussions.) To take away some of what could be very personal, ask students to consider why their male friends or male relatives might not be inclined to seek mental health treatment. If your male students choose to share their own thoughts, that’s fine; just don’t pressure them to do so. Invite the groups to share the reasons they generated with the class. Record the reasons in a way that students can view them.

Next invite your students to visit the Man Therapy website (mantherapy.org). What are their favorite article titles? I’m partial to “Sometimes a man needs a pork shoulder to cry on” and “Anxiety: When worry grabs you by the [nether parts]” with an honorable mention for “Sleep: When catching z’s is harder than catching a 20lb trout.” Do your students think that the messaging about mental health on this website would resonate with the men in their lives? Why or why not? Do your students think different messaging would work better for different cultural or ethnic groups? If so, what might that look like?

If you’d like to extend this discussion, ask students if they were interested in sharing the mantherapy.org link with their male friends and relatives. For your students who are game, ask them to send out texts right now while in class. If texts come back while you are still in class, invite students to share them. Check back in with students during the next class for reactions that students received after class.

If time allows and you are so inclined, ask students to work in small groups to design an experiment that would evaluate the effectiveness of a website such as mantherapy.org. What would their hypothesis be? What would be their measure of effectiveness? What would be their control condition? How would they identify and recruit participants.

If your class, department, psych club, or psych honor society thinks that mantherapy.org could be effective at increasing men’s access to mental healthcare, you can “become a champion” by visiting this page and completing the form at the bottom. You will receive a “shipment of printed collateral including posters, wallet cards, and stickers to help get the word out and drive traffic to the site.” There is no mention of a cost for these materials.

 

References

Curtin, S. C., Garnett, M. F., & Ahmad, F. B. (2022). Provisional numbers and rates of suicide by month and demographic characteristics: United States, 2021 (No. 24). National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/vsrr024.pdf

Smith, D. G. (2022, December 9). How to Get More Men to Try Therapy. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/09/well/mind/men-mental-health-therapy.html

Terlizzi, E. P., & Norris, T. (2021). Mental health treatment among adults: United States, 2020 (NCHS Data Brief No. 419). National Center for Health Statistics. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db419.pdf

 

 

 

About the Author
Sue Frantz has taught psychology in community colleges since 1992, and has been at Highline College in the Seattle area since 2001. She has served on several APA boards and committees, and was proud to serve the members of the Society for the Teaching of Psychology as their 2018 president. In 2013, she was the inaugural recipient of the APA award for Excellence in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at a Two-Year College or Campus. She received in 2016 the highest award for the teaching of psychology--the Charles L. Brewer Distinguished Teaching of Psychology Award . She presents nationally and internationally on the topics of educational technology and the pedagogy of psychology. She is co-author with Doug Bernstein and Steve Chew of Teaching Psychology: A Step-by-Step Guide, 3rd ed.