Today there are many Orthodox men who suffer from depression or anxiety but don't reach out for help and support. There are many reasons why this is occurring. First of all, adult male depression is different from how people view depression. For example, if you were to ask most people “What does a depressed person feel like?” Most would use words like “sad, withdrawn and helpless”. With men however, this might not be true.
For so many men, depression is not experienced as sadness, but as irritation which leads a person to withdraw from relationships and escape from their feelings. Men also do not tend to express their emotions, and instead they mask their emotions through anger and avoidance. Unlike women who can more easily talk about their feelings with others, men are uncomfortable about sharing their feelings and their vulnerabilities and therefore suffer longer without getting help.
Unfortunately, almost 15 million Americans struggle with depression and over 45 million with anxiety. Although we don't know for sure the percentages in the Jewish community suffering with mental illness, it is safe to say that they are probably the same. This would mean that around one in five people who you know may suffer from either depression or anxiety or other forms of mental illness.
Another part of the problem is the stigma surrounding depression or in anxiety. If a man, for example, believes that going to therapy makes him “sick” or “weak” this will be a reason for not reaching out for help with a competent mental health professional. Another fear is for those seeking to get married, the perception that if they have depression or anxiety, they will not easily find a partner. Men will therefore avoid admitting they have a problem in order to avoid being labeled and stigmatized.
In order to change this problem, a new and anonymous phone-in support group is helping men for the first time talk about their feelings of depression and anxiety in a totally confidential environment. On this anonymous phone call group, people do not have to share their name if they choose not to. Protecting their identity gives people them the opportunity to fully express themselves and to listen and learn from others experiencing similar challenges in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch LMFT
The phone in support group happens every Sunday night at 9pm EST and is run by Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, a licensed therapist and contributor to Hidabrut. Each week the group starts with a brief presentation and is followed by “by “shares” for people to share their feelings and get support from others.
For phone in information please visit: https://www.itwillbegood.com/support-groups