Customer Stories

Breaking the Stigma: Why One Father Finally Embraced Mental Health

Mental health has never been an easy topic, and this is especially true among men. Here’s Travis’ story, and how therapy can improve the lives of your employees and their families.

Written by
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Simon Goetz
Clinically reviewed by
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Travis and his family

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    This is Part 1 of our Men's Mental Health blog series.

    Travis' story

    “They’re taking everything you do with them.”

    Travis, a Maintenance Mechanic at General Mills, firefighter, and father of four, was no stranger to problem solving. But when he and his wife discovered some texts on his 13-year-old daughter's phone about self-harm, he didn't know what to do. 

    "I knew how I would [normally] handle it: anger, anxiety, animosity... and I didn't want that to be a factor in this,” Travis says. He realized that many of the traits his daughter was struggling with were issues he hadn't addressed in himself. “I started looking at what my kids were watching me do." 

    Travis had never tried or considered therapy. Once his daughter started seeing a therapist, he realized that it was time for him to work on his own mental health. 

    "I'm a mechanic, so I had to start looking at it as: what tools do I need for my brain?"

    Travis' initial hesitation to address his own issues with depression, anger, and anxiety are not uncommon among male employees. Hear directly from Travis, and then keep reading to learn how to better support the mental health of your employees and their families.

    Why men suffer in secret

    A National Library of Medicine article states, "There is a disproportionate difference between the number of males experiencing mental health disorders and those seeking treatment. Mental health, particularly among men, has gained momentum in becoming the “other” silent killer." 

    Mental health has never been an easy topic, and this is especially true among men. In the past, therapy was taboo. People who went to therapy or sought treatment for mental health disorders did so with discretion. 

    Now that we know our mental health is an important contributor to our overall wellbeing, it’s becoming more common for men to try therapy. But that doesn’t mean they’re talking about it, or the stigma has gone away. 42% of people still see going to therapy as a sign of weakness.

    Often motivated by fear of judgment from peers and coworkers, the 40% of men who experience mental health issues never even speak about them. If they do, few discuss this treatment with their peers. Many men still believe that people with mental illness are negatively stereotyped as weak and failures.

    Though the mental health stigma remains a factor, data shows that this is changing among younger men. 

    According to the Society for Human Resources Management, "Only 32% of Boomers—and these statistics include both males and females—are comfortable talking about these problems. Millennials, those born between the early 1980s and the mid-late 1990s, have an easier time being open about their mental health. 

    “Sixty-two percent of Millennials will let others know they’re having issues. And, members of Generation Z, the youngest adults in our society, have the least amount of trouble talking about their mental illnesses." 

    Is Dad okay? How our mental health affects children

    It was obvious to Travis that his daughter’s issues arose from many of the traits she shared with him. He was also aware that his past avoidance of therapy did not alleviate his issues, and this was not an option for his daughter. 

    For most parents, the effect their behavior has on their children may not be as easy to see.

    Studies have shown that “behavioral disorders in children are closely associated with parents’ psychological problems. In other words, the more severe the parents’ psychological problems, the earlier the children’s behavioral disorders emerge."

    Kids often adopt the perspectives of their parents when forming their own approaches to life and opinions about the world, which can be anything from the ways in which they handle conflict and resolve problems to how they deal with rejection and failure. 

    A 20-year study followed up with the grown children of people struggling with mental health issues, and found that the long-term effects can be exponential. "The risks for anxiety disorders, major depression, and substance dependence were approximately three times as high in the offspring of depressed parents as in the offspring of nondepressed parents." 

    For the kids: how therapy can improve families

    The right mental health professional can make an incredible impact on someone’s life. For Travis and his family, the impact was both immediate and significant. For others, changes may be more gradual.

    Therapy gives you a confidential, judgment-free space to:

    • Talk about what’s on your mind
    • Work through problems and determine the right next step
    • Build skills for handling anxiety, depression, and other feelings you might experience
    • Learn how to communicate with your children more effectively 
    • Get better at resolving conflicts at home and at work 
    • Discuss uncertainties you have about parenting
    • Have a place to vent without consequences
    • Develop a greater capacity to handle stressful situations

    Families that have access to therapy have more resources for processing conflict and adversity, and, because of these resources, they tend to have greater resilience when hit with hardships.

    Therapy with clinical and financial outcomes

    Though remarkable and heart-wrenching, Travis’ story of discovering therapy isn’t an outlier. 

    As mental health needs increase globally, companies that provide mental health and emotional wellness programs in the workplace are experiencing greater retention and engagement. 

    A landmark study published in the world’s leading medical journal, JAMA Network Open, recently validated Spring Health as the first and only mental healthcare company with validated clinical outcomes and proven financial ROI. Employees feel better faster, making them more productive while employers experience significant savings.

    Wondering what this could mean for you? 

    Companies that use Spring Health experience:

    • An average of $7,000 saved per employee within 6 months
    • Nearly 70% of participants reliably improving their mental health
    • Fast recovery times with a 5.9-week average time to remission
    • 24% increase in productivity and 25% fewer missed work days

    Discover how General Mills is changing lives and transforming their culture by embracing mental health.

    About the Author
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    Simon Goetz

    Simon Goetz lives in Oakland, California with his dog, Chicken. Together, they perform as the experimental noise act, Bite the Hand. Pitchfork called their debut EP, Grrrrr, "unlistenable".

    About the clinical reviewer
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