Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend Mental Health America’s 2016 Annual Conference in Alexandria, Va. It was inspiring to be around a community working to end prejudice and increase access to services for people experiencing mental illness. And, as someone who works in PR, I noticed that mental health advocates were most successful when they paired their own experiences with messages of hope and resilience.
Because mental health can be especially difficult for men to discuss, and in honor of Men’s Health Month, below are three male mental health advocates who inspired me yesterday and who may inspire your own work in mental health and wellness.
After experiencing alcohol and drug addiction, Kennedy speaks of addiction as a family issue that needs the same health insurance reimbursement as physical health conditions. Watch an interview where he discusses his experience and the difficulty he has faced with his family’s accepting his openness about mental health and addiction issues.
The actor is using his father’s experience with mania and psychosis to change the way the entertainment industry talks about mental illness. Chris told the crowd yesterday that he hopes that someday mentioning a visit to a therapist will be no more significant than noting a trip to see a personal trainer at the gym.
At just 22 years old, Paul is the owner and founder of a mental health advocacy website called Dear Hope. It features articles, art, photography, and personal stories of people experiencing mental illness. He is using his own experience with depression, anxiety, and insomnia to show others they are not alone and are loved.
These men are inspiring because they are beating the odds when it comes to seeking mental health treatment and sharing their stories. Fewer than half of men who experience a mental health challenge seek treatment. Men are also 3½ times more likely to die by suicide than women. By speaking out and opening up to each other, we can help ourselves and the men we know live healthy, fulfilling lives.