How Can I Get Him To Seek Help?

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
How Can I Get Him To Seek Help?

Talking Points for Women

Women play a key role in encouraging  men to seek help for health problems. It is often a wife or important female (girlfriend, mother, sister or aunt) who is the first to notice changes in their loved one’s behavior or appearance. These changes may signal a health or mental health problem, or both.

There has been an increase in psychological and medical disorders since the start of OEF and OIF. Many service members, some subjected to multiple deployments and combat exposure, have returned with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, drug and alcohol misuse. The number of suicides has increased. Physical injuries include traumatic brain injury (TBI), and war injuries such as burns, amputations and multi-trauma wounds.

Men are often reluctant to seek out healthcare services, especially for emotional problems and depressive symptoms. As a result, many men are living with serious health issues that affect their well being and the well being of their families and children.

Talking to a loved one about seeking help isn’t always easy. How do you talk to someone about changes in their behavior (anger, withdrawal or risky behaviors such as reckless driving, alcohol and drug misuse), and how do you get them to seek professional help?

This “Courage to Care” fact sheet provides tips on talking to your loved one using three approaches that may help men view health seeking in a more favorable light.

When talking to your loved one about seeking help, emphasize:

1. The Role of Outside Events

When talking to your loved one about seeking help, point to the outside factors that may have contributed to what you are seeing or to your loved one’s symptoms. Men may be more willing to acknowledge a problem in terms of outside events rather than as an illness.

Talking Point

“I’ve noticed that you are not yourself lately. You are more irritable, withdrawn and seem sad a lot of the time. Given what you have been through — multiple deployments, combat stress and adjusting to being back, it’s understandable, but the kids and I are concerned, and we want you to feel better.”

2. Help Seeking as a Strength

Many men are concerned that seeking help means they are weak, dependent, and they worry “what will others think of me?” Talk about seeking help as a sign of superior judgment, good decision-making and involving collaboration.

Talking Point

“This has lasted a long time — restless sleep, jumpiness, anger. Seeing someone at the clinic would be a good idea and and probably the best thing you can do at this time. I know you and the doctor can work together to help you feel better.”

3. One’s Obligation to Stay Healthy

Duty is part of military life and culture. Discuss health seeking as fulfilling one’s duty to self and important people in the service member’s life — family, children and comrades.

Talking Point

“I know that you are ‘getting by’, but by getting help, you can be doing that much better! By taking care of yourself, you are taking care of our family. We both have a duty to stay healthy for each other, for our work and importantly, for our children.”

Remember, women play an important role in encouraging men to seek help. This fact sheet provides three approaches that may reduce the stigma many men attach to seeking medical care. When you talk to him, it may be helpful to: 1) describe whatever changes you are seeing as likely due to external events such as the stresses of deployment, 2) talk about help seeking as a sign of courage, good judgment and an obligation or duty to one’s self, family, friends and one’s job.

Posted on BrainLine May 28, 2013.

From the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Used with permission.