Braddoc DeCaires is living his best life. After years of living on the Mainland, he's happy to be back on Oahu in his dream job as the production manager at Manoa Valley Theatre. He has a great group of friends and a supportive partner. He feels at home in more ways than one.
DeCaires on a hike in Kailua.
It’s a life he says wouldn’t be possible if he hadn’t received professional help to treat depression and anxiety as a teenager. But taking the first step wasn’t easy. Even if he knew it was the right choice for his well-being, he worried about what his relatives and friends would think.
“My mom was very open-minded about therapy, which was good,” says DeCaires. “But even then, there’s the thought that if you go to therapy it means you’re crazy. I had to decide for myself that it was worth it.” DeCaires isn’t alone.
According to the American Psychological Association, men of all ages and backgrounds are less likely than women to seek professional help for issues like depression, substance abuse, or stressful life events. Mental Health America says that social norms, reluctance to talk, and downplaying symptoms can feed into their resistance.
Steven Nagasaka, a marriage and family therapist at Hookupu Counseling Services, says that men can face unique challenges. “Men often have an increased difficulty with mental or emotional difficulties due to the stigma of weakness and the threat to manhood or manliness. An added difficulty is that it’s often culturally ingrained from a young age to subdue or ignore their emotions,” he says.
Nagasaka encourages men and anyone else who needs help to reach out to a mental health professional. If you need help taking that step, Mental Health America offers these tips:
- Get recommendations for mental health professionals from your doctor, friends, and anyone you trust.
- Confirm that these professionals accept your health insurance.
- If possible, interview more than one professional before making your decision. The goal is to choose someone you’re comfortable with.
Nagasaka says fear is natural but shouldn’t get in the way of your health. “On a much broader level, people risk damage in other areas of their lives if they don’t get help,” he says.
These days, DeCaires isn’t shy about telling people that therapy changed his life. “I’m very outspoken about the fact that I’m on medication and that I have depression and anxiety because I don’t want people to feel like they’re alone,” he says. “More people need to hear they aren’t alone, because they really aren’t.”
June is Men’s Health Month, a national observance to raise awareness about health care for men, boys, and their families. If you think you or a loved one may need help, go to mentalhealthamerica.net to take a free mental health screening.