Online Program

Man therapy: A web-based approach that uses humor to increase help seeking and prevent suicide among men

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

Jarrod Hindman, MS, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO
In 2010, 43% of suicide deaths in the US were men ages 25-54, who are four times more likely to die by suicide than women. Research shows that men are less likely to access mental health services, and traditional approaches to reaching men with suicide prevention messages have been mostly unsuccessful. A review of literature and a thematic analysis of interviews with men, identified the following strategies for reaching high-risk men: take mental health language out; show role models of hope and recovery; share stories of men who have gone through tough times and are now thriving; connect physical symptoms with emotional issues; meet men where they are; offer opportunities to give back; coach the people around men on what to look for and do; give men a chance to “fix themselves.” Together with key partners, the Colorado Department of Public Health developed a Website and communication campaign called Man Therapy. The goal is to show men that getting help is masculine. The campaign's strength is its humorous approach through a fictional “therapist” named Dr. Mahogany, who is a no-nonsense man's man. At the center of the campaign is a web portal that allows men to interact with Mahogany, do a self-assessment, and get “manly mental health tips.” When men indicate high levels of distress, Mahogany refers them to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline or “the Pros”. Testimonial videos show men that have triumphed over significant life challenges. More than 160,000 have visited since July 2012, and evaluation results are promising.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Define how men of working age account for the highest number of suicide deaths each year in the U.S., while also being far less likely than women to seek and access available mental health services. Describe how using humor and "manspeak" are used to reach traditionally resistant men in a safe, anonymous environment to examine topics like suicide, depression, anger, anxiety and substance abuse. Discuss evaluation design and results of a web-based tool for working age men.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health, and am a founding partner of the Man Therapy project. My office is legislatively mandated to lead all statewide suicide prevention and intervention efforts in Colorado.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.