2019 Justin Has a Challenge for All Men Reading This

By | January 23, 2019

I’ve shared my mental health journey and struggles with depression over the past month, and now I have an ask for you.

Today marks my last entry in this 31 day writing challenge, though I encourage you to check out my weekly column here on the Good Men Project, which explores one of the other important journeys in my life as a testicular cancer survivor and men’s health activist. I’ve spent the past 30 days writing about my journey, but now I’m closing with a challenge for you:

Open up to one of your male friends about your mental health. Encourage them to do the same to you and to another friend. The tiniest ripple of one single conversation will eventually gain momentum and build to an overwhelming positive tsunami of change.

These conversations are certainly needed. The American Psychology Association reports that 9% of men have daily feelings of depression or anxiety and that over 30% of men have suffered from a period of depression at some point in their lives. This are just the statistics from men who responded to the survey and were honest with their feelings, so I am inclined to think the real numbers are even higher.  

While my main passion is related to testicular health, I’m also very dedicated to the cause of breaking down barriers and stigmas around male mental health. It’s not treated as a serious issue in our society.

The debacle with the insurance company and preauthorization helps to underscore this. When I had “probable strep” last January, although the test came back negative, the company had no problem approving amoxicillin, even though it probably wasn’t necessary. Any other prescription for my myriad of side effects during chemo was filled without an issue. But needing antidepressants? I had to jump through hoops to get those.

It’s not just insurance companies. I recently saw a Tweet that said, “Depressed people don’t need Prozac. They need running shoes and fresh air.”

That’s a damaging narrative. I tried that, and continue to exercise, but it wasn’t that simple for me. If that’s your opinion, fine. Go run or whatever else works for you. But don’t shame other people for trying what might work for them and being brave enough to open up about mental health.

In closing, change begins with us. As men, we can change this narrative and shape the conversation that it’s ok to not be ok and it’s totally cool to admit it. Share your own struggles or feel free to use my story as a springboard to get the dialogue flowing. The important thing is to have that conversation and keep it a constant part of life.

My fellow testicular cancer survivor and great friend, Dave Fuehrer, says it best:

“Getting that fear out of the darkness inside us and exposing it to light is the first step in changing the world. And it is the first step in helping men become of the men we’re proud to be.”

image credit – pixabay

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