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“Men impacted more than we think by ongoing self-isolation ”

As we know, spending much more time at home, as directed during the current Covid-19 public health crisis, has led to a surge in domestic abuse cases. A 35% increase in calls to local services has been noticed since effective lockdown in the second week of March. This is reflected across our Province, Canada and the world. There has been much focus on securing additional resources and support, rightly so, for the women who are experiencing increasing intimate partner violence of any kind.

But what can communities be doing to also support men during this pandemic, ideally before it gets to the stage when they crack? Social isolation and a radically changed routine plus increasing financial pressure for many, is raising stress levels, anxiety, and depression to a level that many men will never have experienced before. Some of the more traditional ways men de-stress like playing team sports, hanging with guy friends for a beer after work, sharing mutual love of their favorite major league team, are simply not there right now. The intersection of men, masculinity, and mental health is being forced into the spotlight with men being “trapped” in the home for this length of time. They need to know there is support out there in our community and that it is easy to access without stigma.

Sam Yasinski a tech start up entrepreneur and former bartender from Kelowna says “Now more than ever we need to widely promote a culture which disrupts the narrative around silent suffering and the expectations for men to always be strong, stoic, and silent.”

The traditional image of “therapy” still scares so many men. While so much of the world is designed for the comfort and benefit of men, there is still a belief that the world of counselling is not. The thought of a couch, a box of Kleenex, a teal colored room and some early questions about their mother will send them running for the door. Most want to hear specific and achievable goals for treatment, and straightforward descriptions of the therapy process and how it works. The use of memorable language for transparency from therapists eases their distrust of the process. One participant in a study of this said  “If you just tell me…like ‘dude, you’re a bit messed up, you need about ten sessions, around $100 each, that’s 1,000 bucks,’ then I’d be like, ‘Cool Bro.’ I’d budget for that,”

Connect Counselling in Kelowna offers drop-in, group & individual men’’ counselling sessions and is seeking to increase the availability of these to support more local men and boys during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. They are hoping that community relief efforts will also invest in longer term needs like this.

“We have seen such successful outcomes with the mens’ groups we have offered in the past and we know the need is out there for more. We need to ensure all local men experiencing increased stress and anxiety reach out, irrespective of the financial resources they may have right now” said Roxie Van Aller, Executive Director of Connect Counselling & Therapy Society in downtown Kelowna.

Connect is launching its “$130 for 130 Men Matter Too” campaign in which it will invite donors and corporate sponsors to help support free counselling services for 130 additional men in need by the fall. Many in our community are seeking ways to directly help those affected by this crisis. A $130 donation will support one local man through 8 weeks of drop-in group counselling or 2 individual private sessions, and the need is growing. There is already a waitlist for services and it will increase significantly as this pandemic continues to disrupt daily life. For more information on how you or your business can help, go to https://trellis.org/men-matter-too

If our community can push forward in its awareness of the unique mental health needs of men and boys, it’s important to remember that the positive impact is not just about the men. Part of why this work is so important is that our fates are linked. When men suffer in silence at times like these and end up perpetrating domestic violence, or fall victim to substance abuse or suicide, it’s usually women and girls who are left to pick up the pieces. So this is really about creating healthier families and communities and creating better mental health for everybody. Both during the Covid-19 pandemic and once we start coming out the other side of it.

Connect Counselling & Therapy office open Monday-Friday 250-860-3181, #204-347 Leon Ave with online services available by appointment anytime www.connectcounsellingsociety.ca

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