The COVID-19 pandemic has caused even the calmest people to be anxious. The nonprofit Mental Health America reports that it has seen a 12 to 19 percent increase in screening for generalized anxiety disorders since February.
“Traditionally, men express more worry about employment and finances, and COVID-19 is extra hard because there’s such a lack of control and security about the future,” Mental Health America Chief Program Officer Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, told Men’s Journal.
In men, depression and anxiety often manifests as anger, aggression, risky behavior, or excessive drinking, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. That means men need a toolbox of healthy ways to cope with stressful circumstances, whether from the pandemic or anything else.
The bottom line is that it’s totally normal to feel “off” right now, whether due to fear about the virus affecting loved ones, worries about job security, boredom in the absence of a routine schedule of work, or anything else. Because the whole world is feeling more anxious right now, some of the shame and stigma around seeking mental health treatment has disappeared.
The good news is that there are a lot of apps and digital platforms supporting mental health, so for men who don’t feel comfortable actually going to a therapist’s office, there is a choice. “Seeking preventative health is actually the best strategy, since it can teach you tools like breathing or cognitive behavioral therapy that you then know when you’re having trouble calming down or spiraling with stress over finances,” Nguyen said.
The article recommends several apps, including a newcomer to the block offered by Hims. The company had already expanded its telehealth offerings to include regular primary-care issues, but Hims launched its mental health offerings earlier than it had planned due to the COVID-19 crisis. Hims Group Talk is offering free support groups to help men cope with the pandemic. Every session is led by a therapist and focuses on different concerns, with topics ranging from coping with grief in isolation and finding focus or motivation. Men can submit questions to the host before the session goes live to address their concerns. And it’s totally anonymous.
Other apps Men’s Journal recommends include:
- Skill Building, an app that teaches the foundational skills that can help dissipate anger, rein in anxiety, and avoid overreactions.
- Breathe2Relax, developed by a branch of the military’s Defense Health Agency, teaches users different patterns of deep breathing that can get the nervous system back under control.
- Insight Timer, a meditation app with a free library of guided meditations, both long and short, for many different situations including managing stress, improving sleep, and calming kids.
- Talklife lets users write about their concerns in a message board-style format and get support from thousands of other users going through similar struggles. The interface can be completely anonymous.
- 7Cups is a great tool if you need to talk to someone right away, especially for men concerned about the cost. Use the app to connect with a trained volunteer for free, similar to a crisis support line, and if users want or need deeper health, the platform offers sessions with licensed professionals for a monthly fee of $150, which is certainly cheaper than most alternatives.
- Talkspace matches users with a licensed therapist with whom users have access day or night. Live video sessions will cost extra, but Talkspace partners with many employers and health plans to cover some of the costs.
Read the full article here.