Toxic Masculinity: A barrier in men’s mental health

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, help is available at all times by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In a place where results are defined by consistency, Darius Mitchell trained his strongest muscle: his mind.

“I’m lifting weights and tears are coming down my eyes,” said Mitchell. “I never thought in a million years it would’ve been him.”

Mitchell said he balances the weight of losing his brother, Christopher Montgomery. He died by suicide on April 15, 2018.

“He died from a broken heart,” said Mitchell. 

The grief was overwhelming. It put Mitchell’s soul on life support.

“It was easy for me to say, ‘OK, I’ll have an extra drink,’ and that extra drink turned into two extra drinks,” said Mitchell. “I lashed out, I became a recluse; my family would call and I never wanted to talk to anybody.”

Divine intervention changed that.

“My brother visited me in a dream,” said Mitchell. “It was a dream and he said, ‘What are you doing?’”

Mitchell said he later put down the bottle and picked up therapy.

It is an outlet he said men in his circle were never taught to explore, citing what mental health experts called toxic masculinity.

“It is probably the number one thing that probably prevents a lot of men from seeking help for mental health issues,” said Marvin McKenzie Jr, a child and family therapist at Arbor Circle

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255

The Centers for Disease Control‘s latest data reveals women are more likely than men to go to therapy. 

A 2020 survey found more than 12% of women received counseling in the previous 12 months compared to less than 8% of men. 

When News 8 asked McKenzie for the reason for the disparity, he said some men “see it as a sign of weakness and are not wanting to ask for help.”

He added some men think that going to therapy makes them seem crazy.

Regardless of perception, Mitchell has found a spotter who helps him bear his weight.

“I went looking for a therapist and I found a friend,” said Mitchell. 

He encouraged other men to do the same, knowing that trying to man up can bring any man down.

“Be OK with being emotional,” said Mitchell. “If you need help, it doesn’t make you less of a man; it makes you more of a man.”

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