Men communicate differently and don’t like opening up to women

Mental health services are supposed to support everyone, but the reality is that they don’t. Men communicate very differently to women and as a result, men find it difficult to speak to female counsellors about their issues and concerns. This is a harsh reality for men. In Australia nearly seventy percent of counsellors are female. Only thirty percent are men.

For this reason, many men avoid reaching out to support services because they feel that a female counsellor would not be able to help them. When they do, they get a female on the end of the line and they are not able to connect with them. The majority of his clients are men and they state that they do not feel comfortable talking with a woman about their issues because a woman does not understand them and what they are experiencing.

Men prefer male counsellors. They don’t want to talk with a nurturing mother. They want to speak with someone who understands their need to be more of a practical problem solver, a fixer. They want to connect with someone who understands how they are feeling and what they can do to resolve issues. Women want to be heard and men just need to fix things.

What is my expertise on the matter?

Men should endeavor to reach out to services that offer male counsellors. My concern is that men are not reaching out because they feel they are not going to get the help they need. And this is the key reason why I established Strong Men’d, because the help I received when I was going through one of the darkest parts of my life was incredibly inadequate.

Once I got my life back on track, I made a promise to myself that I would learn and undertake study to become the help for other men that I really needed myself.

I know a thing or two about high-pressure careers as a part of the Australian Federal Police for 18 years where my illustrious career grew from strength to strength: from running and organising national and international operations, to leading the Australian Prime Minister’s Protection Team, to managing the Office of Commissioner as the Executive Officer.

But just like any other person, my life has had lows. I suffered a public fall from grace, after gambling away $2 million and charging $45,000 to my corporate credit card. The root cause of it all? Stress, a major depressive disorder and inadequate coping strategies and options.

I have turned my life around, complementing my extensive lived experience with a Masters of Brain and Mind Sciences and a newly launched consultancy company, Strong Men’d, focused on helping men in high-pressure careers understand the causes and effects of their stress loads, and channel them towards building success in their personal lives and careers.

How family members and spouses can help

I also encourage family members and partners of men who are concerned about them to reach out for male help. Often men know that something is wrong, they just don’t know what and they don’t know where to start in order to get help. Partners, friends and family often observe changes in a man’s behaviour and recognise that something isn’t right.

Depression, worry, stress and pressure manifest in different ways but normally a change in behaviour is a common symptom. Much of my work in helping men who are overwhelmed, depressed, inadequate or struggling with issues like financial pressure or addiction, involves having an initial conversation and from there we work out a plan together to solve things.

Things are certainly easier to deal with when you are able to work with someone who genuinely understands your issues and has walked in your shoes. This is what men want, genuine understanding and connection so they can work towards a solution.

Gary Fahey is the founder and CEO of coaching and consultancy company, Strong Men’d. Fahey’s company was created to coach and mentor men who work in high pressure careers manage their high levels of stress.

Gary Fahley,ANZMHA Ambassador
Gary Fahley,ANZMHA Ambassador