It’s not about “Freudian couches and personality changing drugs”: An investigation into men’s mental health help-seeking enablers

6 min


Research suggests that reduced rates of mental illness in men compared to women is largely the product of under-diagnosis. This is thought to be partially due to reluctance to seek help among men and the increased use of harmful self-management strategies such as excessive alcohol consumption and drug taking.

Four decades of research in men’s mental health help-seeking has focused primarily on perceived barriers to seeking care with little attention paid to enabling factors.


The aim of this study was to identify enablers to mental health help-seeking in men.


Semi-structured interviews were used to examine participants’ experiences and perceptions of mental health help-seeking. The interview questions considered men’s intentions to seek counselling, family and friends’ experiences of counselling, and other enablers.

Men were recruited through selected clinics of psychologists and counsellors in Melbourne, Victoria, and were eligible to participate if they were (voluntarily) currently receiving counselling or had received it in the previous 12 months.


Nine men aged 23 to 65 years volunteered to participate in the study. All had completed at least 5 counselling sessions in the previous 12 months.

Two men identified as gay and the remainder as heterosexual. Four men were in long-term relationships while another four were single; one man did not disclose his relationship status.

Seven themes were identified within men’s interviews:


The findings of this study support a strengths-based approach—where enabling factors and positive influences are acknowledged—to mental health policy for men.

Campaigns to dispel social norms around masculinity and health, and to counter negative stereotypes around mental health, directed at both the public and GPs may assist men to better manage their own mental health.

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