Website offers men-tal health tuneup
Mantherapy: Therapy the way a man would do it
by Gabi Johnston, Office of Communications
It’s OK for men to cry, even when it’s not about sports.
That’s the message the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working hard to convey with mantherapy.org, an edgy website offering a hefty dose of man humor along with tips on how to cope with depression, anger and those moments “when worry grabs you by the balls.”
"If we are going to reduce suicide rates among men in Colorado, we simply must continue to spread the message that one of the most manly things a man can do is take care of his mental health," said Jarrod Hindman, deputy chief of the Violence and Injury Prevention-Mental Health Promotion Branch. “Mantherapy.org is specifically designed to debunk the outdated social norm that asking for or seeking out help is weak, and to provide men with a variety of different options for dialing-in their mental health."
Dr. Rich Mahagony is the “doctor” featured on the site, and whether he’s doing a man-version of yoga, cleaning his office with a leaf blower or dumping various “green things” in a bowl to make guacamole, his short videos reinforce the notion that it’s OK for men to ask for help.
Launched in 2012, the website has been revamped recently to include additional resources for military veterans and emergency responders, as well as tools to complete a “head inspection” and the ability to sign in and save useful resources. The site provides a wide range of mental health resources as well as “one-on-none” therapies ̶ quick but useful tips to help improve men’s mental health.
Mantherapy.org is just one way the department is working to combat suicide rates among men. Colorado’s suicide rates are among the highest in the country, and males in Colorado are four times more likely to die by suicide than females.
“Suicide is complex, and it’s impossible to pinpoint only one reason Colorado’s suicide rates are higher,” said Sarah Brummett, director of the state’s Office of Suicide Prevention. However, researchers believe it may stem from a few things, including:
- Old west mentality: There is a prevailing belief that men who experience a problem should just dust off their boots and move on, rather than seeking help.
- Firearms: Coloradans have easy access to firearms, especially in more rural areas, so men who are contemplating suicide can easily obtain a firearm.
- Higher elevation: Some studies indicate people living at higher elevations have lower oxygen levels, which can affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood.
As is the case with all suicide prevention efforts, it’s tricky to determine how successful the website has been in reducing male suicide rates, which have continued to climb since 2009.
Since 2012, there have been 700,000 visits to the site from all over the world, and more than 70,000 visits from Colorado. Hindman said he’s pleased with the website and the traffic it has generated to date with very little funding for advertising. He is seeking additional advertising funding, however, to help increase awareness of the website.
“We feel like we still have a bit of a hidden gem. Funding would allow us to introduce Man Therapy to a much larger audience of Colorado men,” Hindman said.