Health Initiative for Men reminds gay men to Take Time For Your Mind
Gay men often face many health needs and issues that differ from the rest of the population.
Growing up in the closet and dealing with its residual effects, bearing the brunt of homophobic attitudes or attacks, feeling alienated by heterosexism ingrained in social relations, dealing with internalized homophobia, working through coming out—all take their toll on the psyche and emotions.
The Vancouver gay men’s organization Health Initiative for Men takes a holistic approach. While it has a Sexual Health Centre, runs exercise classes, and has social and discussion groups, it also addresses mental and emotional health.
While sexual taboos have been tackled by awareness campaigns in addressing issues like sexually transmitted infections, negative associations still linger when it comes to mental health. Depression, anxiety, addiction, and other mental health issues often remain misunderstood or stigmatized in society in general.
What’s more, men have traditionally been discouraged from talking about emotions or sharing personal issues, and are often encouraged to deal with things on their own.
Consequently, HIM is launching a campaign called Take Time For Your Mind to remind gay men about HIM’s various mental and emotional health resources that are available. And what’s even more amazing is that most of them are free!
If you are a gay man who is facing challenges and wants helps, there are three different types of resources you can consider.
If you feel like no one can hear you, or you want someone to listen to you without judgment and without diagnosing you, HIM Peer Support might be suitable. Peer Support volunteers are trained in listening skills and remaining nonjudgmental. It’s also completely confidential.
Or do you have a specific goal in mind that you want help working towards? Whether it’s establishing an exercise regime, improving your diet, changing your sex life, coming out, managing your finances, or other lifestyle issues, the HIM Personal Strategic Advising program teams you up with a trained advisor who will help you develop a concrete plan to take action step-by-step in moving towards and achieving your goal. Six one-to-one sessions are provided, all free of charge.
But if you feel like you need to address some psychological or emotional concerns in depth, there’s HIM Professional Counselling. Professionally trained gay men are volunteering to make counselling more accessible. It’s nonjudgmental and confidential. Payment is by donations equivalent to hourly wages.
As part of their campaign to raise awareness about these services, HIM is releasing a free 2012 Take Time For Your Mind compact calendar (on 4” x 6” postcards) that will be available at gay bars, Vancouver bookstores, and at the HIM Clinics. (HIM opened up a satellite sexual health clinic on Commercial Drive in August.)
The postcard calendars and posters feature three different types of men: a student, a construction worker, and a doctor. Each one represents each of the three services available as possible examples of who might access these services.
A student, for instance, might be interested in having someone listen to them (peer support). The construction worker represents a guy interested in taking action in his life with a personal strategic advisor. The doctor, representing white-collar workers, may be interested in talking to a trained counsellor or psychologist.
These are just examples, as anyone can access any of the three services.
This awareness campaign coincides with the time of year when people are facing psychological or emotional issues like seasonal affective disorder, holiday stress, or loneliness.
It's also the time of year when people start thinking about New Year's resolutions. Accordingly, images of three more types of men will be released in January, as a further reminder about these resources.
If you want more details about the mental health services available, visit this HIM webpage or to schedule an appointment, call the HIM Office at 604-488-1001. You can also browse through the HIM website to take a look at other services and information that the organization provides.