On January 17, 2010, Joshua R. Beharry stood on a British Columbia bridge, attempting to end his life.
Luckily, his attempt failed, and today Beharry is a mental health advocate and Project Coordinator of HeadsUpGuys, a British Columbia-based campaign to support men who have depression. He tells his story so that men, and all people with depression, can feel empowered to reach out.
“I didn’t really start out trying to reach men more specifically,” Beharry wrote to Talkspace in an email interview. “But through my work at HeadsUpGuys I’ve come to realize that a lot of guys go through similar issues and face similar barriers to reaching out as I did.”
Beharry is not alone. While more women than men attempt suicide, more men than women — 3.53 times more, in fact — complete it. This contradicts the widespread notion that depression, and other mental illnesses, are women’s diseases — and points to a serious gap in mental health resources for men. Researchers have found that while factors like racial discrimination and cost of mental health care prevent men from reaching out for mental health help, there’s another culprit: toxic masculinity, or harmful stereotypes about what it means to be a man.
Seeking mental health support is totally normal, healthy, and can even be life-saving. So how can we help men reach out? It starts with recognizing the unique ways in which men experience and express mental illness, and addressing the stereotypes that prevent men from seeking help. Mental illness isn’t shameful or a sign of weakness: it’s a genuine and common medical issue, and everyone who suffers deserves help.
Beharry hopes that by encouraging men to reach out, they can get help before they hit rock bottom. “I went through a lot of unnecessary pain and struggles ’cause I didn’t reach out right away,” Beharry says. “I want to help as many people avoid that as I can.”