How health professionals can help men help themselves

3 min

Breaking down the psychosocial barriers that prevent men from seeking help when they feel unwell is not the sort of thing that can be achieved overnight.

The socialisation of males to be independent and persevere during adversity, and the fostering of a culture that rewards and reinforces these characteristics over generations will require us all, as a society, to do our part to help men take better care of themselves.

As a health professional, there are simple things you can do to make it easier for men to access care. Knowing how to communicate effectively with men, tailoring clinical service to men’s preferences, greater flexibility with care provision, out-of-hour services, and targeted men’s health outreach services are practical steps that may improve men’s utilisation of healthcare services[1].

These actions might remove some of the practical barriers to men seeking help, but what about the psychosocial ones?

The role of self-compassion

Helping men improve their self-compassion might be one way to help them overcome psychosocial barriers to seeking help with their health.

High levels of self-compassion can reduce the self-stigma of seeking help, even in men who have high levels of gender role conflict resulting from rigid adherence to restrictive masculine norms2.

Self-compassion can be taught, and increasing it need not focus on traditional masculine norms3. Some ways of fostering self-compassion may actually appeal to men’s adherence to traditional masculinities, such as promoting self-improvement and functioning at a high level2.

There are ways of appealing to masculine norms that enforce men’s roles as protectors: encouraging them to think about an occasion when they provided support to someone else can help men to improve their self-compassion3.

There’s no harm in all of us being a little kinder to ourselves.

There are guided practices and exercises designed to foster self-compassion, available online[4], that you might want to try yourself before recommending them to patients.


[1] World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe, ‎2018‎. The health and well-being of men in the WHO European Region: better health through a gender approach. World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe

[2] Booth et al., 2019. Masculine gender role stress and self-stigma of seeking help: the moderating roles of self-compassion and self-coldness.

[3] Heath et al., 2017. Masculinity and barriers to seeking counselling: the buffering role of self-compassion. Journal of Counselling Psychology



Health practitioners

Did you find this page helpful?

Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice

Call 000 for emergency services

If you or someone you know needs urgent medical attention.

Call MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78 for 24/7 support

MensLine Australia is a telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns.

Sign up to our newsletter

We release two monthly newsletters – one written for men, family and friends, and another for health practitioners.

Your preferred mailing list

Your name

Your email

Stay up to date


Healthy Male acknowledges the traditional owners of the land. We pay our respects to elders past, present and future. We are committed to providing respectful, inclusive services and work environments where all individuals feel accepted, safe, affirmed and celebrated.


Healthy Male is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care. This website does not host any form of advertisement. Information provided on this website is not a substitute for medical advice.

Trusted information partner of