The groundbreaking new program, Man Therapy, aims to provide men approaching crisis, and their loved ones, a website to learn more about men’s mental health, examine their own health and consider a wide array of actions that will lead them on the path to treatment and recovery. The message of Man Therapy, which was presented in Delta and Montrose last month, is that all men should be aware of their mental health, treat it like they would a broken leg and strive to get better.
Colorado currently has the sixth highest suicide rate in the nation with men ages 25 through 54 representing a significant portion of suicide deaths, and those numbers, according to Jarrod Hindman, Suicide Prevention Unit Manager at Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention, are on the rise.
“We need to understand suicide prevention in a different and new way,” Hindman said at a forum in Delta on Nov. 27. “Men do not access mental health services in the same way women do. They account for only one in 10 diagnosed cases of depression and men tend to have a resistance to asking for help.”
Hindman said that while stereotypical, many male stigmas, such as “no sissy stuff,” having a “manly air of toughness” and to “never show weakness” are real traits that can be detrimental when it comes to seeking mental health.
“Those traits are good things to have in certain situations,” he said, “but when it comes to talking about suicide, they are things that keep men from accessing services or acknowledging their problems.”
With those characteristics in mind, the online program was created. Man Therapy features a fictitious hero, Dr. Rich Mahogany (think of the character Ron Swanson from NBC’s Parks and Recreation). Mahogany is a man who is dedicated to cutting through denial and uses a new approach to mental health using his odd sense of humor and practical advice for men. Dr. Mahogany reshapes the conversation, using humor to cut through stigma and tackle issues like depression, divorce, and even suicidal thoughts head on.
Mahogany’s personality is dedicated to smashing the age-old stigma that says mental health disorders are unmanly signs of weakness.
“It’s therapy the way a man would do it,” Hindman said.
The centerpiece of the campaign is the mantherapy.org website, where men and their loved ones will find they have a virtual appointment with Dr. Mahogany. He greets visitors, makes them feel at ease and then provides an overview of what they will find and explore during their visit.
From there, visitors can navigate through Dr. Mahogany’s office where they can find useful information about men’s mental health including a guy’s guide to Gentlemental Health. Men can choose to take an 18-question quiz to evaluate their own mental health status. They can also access resources and explore a wide range of choices from do-it-yourself tips to professional therapist referrals.
The campaign is the result of a unique partnership between the Denver-based advertising firm, Cactus, the Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado suicide prevention nonprofit Carson J Spencer Foundation.
The Center for Mental Health, which serves a six county region including Montrose, San Miguel, Ouray, Gunnison, Hinsdale, and Delta counties, recently received a grant to implement the program as well.
“This campaign goes beyond just awareness to really engage men and draw them into the conversation,” said Sally Spencer Thomas, psychologist and chief executive officer of Carson J Spencer Foundation. “It teaches them about men’s mental health and encourages them with options ranging from do it yourself techniques all the way to professional therapy and resources.”
Since launching on July 9, Hindman said the website has seen a significant amount of traffic mainly in Colorado but around the nation as well. He’s excited about the number of clicks the website is seeing, and the length of time visitors are spending there.
“The average visitor stays on for six minutes,” Hindman said. “Six minutes is unheard of and we are incredibly pleased with that. People are intrigued by it. What we don’t know is whether men who are in need of help take that information and put it toward getting help. Ultimately, that’s what we want to happen.”
Initial funding for the project was provided through a grant from The Anschutz Foundation to help develop the campaign beginning in 2006. Promotional partners include Kroenke Sports Charities and its teams including the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Rapids and Colorado Mammoth.
In addition to the engaging experience viewers can find at mantherapy.org, the integrated communications campaign also includes a 30-second TV PSA, three viral videos, social media promotions, outdoor boards and outreach materials including posters, coasters and Dr. Mahogany’s business card for partners who will distribute materials throughout Colorado.
Dr. Rich Mahogany is now available at mantherapy.org/. More information on mental health and suicide prevention in the region can be found at centermh.org.