More men seek counselling during pandemic

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The TT Association of Psychologists has observed that men who have developed a high dependency on alcohol to cope with stress are now seeking counselling to deal with mental health issues.

This new trend was detected in the first year of the pandemic.

During a joint select committee to inquire into a report to parliament on social services and public administration, Charles Collier president of the association said they noticed this trend during the pandemic.

He said it isn’t new for men to turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with emotional distress.

“Men in particular are prone to responding to their internal distress by drinking. And so during the pandemic places to gather and drink were shuttered and so for men, in particular a major source of their ways for coping was unavailable.

“As a consequence many men found themselves overwhelmed and unable to cope because the way that they had been maintaining themselves and staying within the bounds of functioning was decimated.”

He said restrictions on outdoor activities –which is another mechanism for coping with stress among men –to reduce covid19 infection rate and deaths also played a major part.

“Also for men the loss of work and loss of income is not just a matter of practical challenge, but also a psychological challenge. It undermines men sense of identify and worth. Its exacerbated challenges that men were having. That showed up in an increase of domestic, if not physical, violence.”

With all the usual coping mechanisms unavailable, men were pushed to consider counselling as a possible viable option.

“Men who engaged the process during the pandemic because they were overwhelmed, and found some of the experiences they had in counselling or therapy beneficial to them are more likely to continue to seek care subsequently.

“However I cannot think of a reason why that would affect a culturally embedded pattern of men’s avoidance of health.”

While the psychological needs weren’t specific to one gender, the responses were different.

“Both men and women shared a number of considerations. There were particular things that showed up with respect to gender. In many instances women bore the brunt to the expanded stress…Women found themselves overwhelmed by the immensity of what was being required of them under those condition and having no avenue of relief.”

Colliers said it is now more important, as people, men particularly, are becoming more open to therapy, to have a focus on a mental health crisis emergency care on high-risk groups.

“There are people who are at risk of potentially losing their lives or being harmed in other ways. It’s entirely appropriate to, in a sort of triage sense, focus on that predominantly.

“If we only focus on crisis, then all we do is meet people at the point where they are so overwhelmed, so harmed so desperate that we are able to only help them out of the crisis and back to the place just below the level of crisis. We end up with a population is functioning in a quiet crisis mode.”

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