In response to mainstream mental health professions becoming increasingly feminized, and increasingly indifferent to the specific needs of boys and men, four mental health practitioners have launched a network that proposes to train mental health professionals to provide services, in addition to providing services themselves, to this underserved group in the mental health community.
Dr. Tara Palmatier (PsyD) began her own clinical practice after noting that ‘men who are in abusive relationships in which the perpetrator is a woman do not have the same support resources as their female counterparts’, and she is the co-author of Say Goodbye to Crazy: How to Get Rid of His Crazy Ex-wife and Restore Sanity to Your Life, a book useful to anyone dealing with personality-disordered women, whether ex-wives or not. Dr. Palmatier will be creating training materials for other mental health professionals, as well as providing counseling services to individuals in the area of high conflict relationships.
Tom Golden (LCSW), who runs the on-line grief counseling service webhealing.com, provides services directly to men who are healing from a loss in their lives, and will be creating training material for mental health professionals to assist them in comforting and supporting men. With more than 20 years of experience, Golden came to understand that ‘rather than crying and talking about their emotions men will tend to use action and honoring as a means to connect. In this process they are pulled into the future. All of these things, action, honoring, and the future are in stark contrast to the more expected modes of healing by open emoting and talking.’ Golden is the author of The Way Men Heal, a book that addresses the common assertion that men ‘are not dealing with their feelings’.
Paul Elam is best known as the publisher of the foremost men’s rights site on the internet, A Voice for Men. He also provides coaching services through An Ear for Men. Elam is an experienced addictions counselor, with more than 20 years of experience writing and directing substance abuse programs, where he ‘addressed the issues faced by women and other special populations in treatment settings. He has since focused his work to address men’s issues after observing a harmful lack of attention to their problems in the mental health industry.’ Elam is the co-author of Say Goodbye to Crazy and Go Your Own Way.
Peter Wright has worked in the Australian disability sector with men requiring ‘various levels of physical, emotional and social support.’ During his career, Wright met with ‘numerous disabled men who have suffered violence or sexual abuse but who were afraid to tell someone for fear of being disbelieved, blamed or ridiculed, responses that can be partly blamed on a gendered approach that is resistant to seeing men as victims.’ Wright focuses on undoing the damages of ‘gynocentric values of “women first,” “girls before boys,” and “saving damsels in distress,” – regressive values which serve to undo a rights movement based on human rights values as opposed to gendered ones.’ Wright is the author of Gynocentrism: From Feudalism to Modern Disney Princesses, and co-author of Go Your Own Way.
The Men’s Mental Health Network (MMHN) challenges the current mental health community to ‘embrace an objective and scholarly understanding of their issues and to extend them the compassion and advocacy we are ethically bound to provide. It is as simple as accepting that men have problems vs the default assumption that men are the problem. That distinction either inspires hope or kills it.’
Refusing to provide mental health services that meet the needs of men and boys is fatal: male levels of suicide are at epidemic levels. The MMHN hopes to address the silent epidemic of men in despair, with nowhere to turn, by training mental health professionals and providing services to individual men. Despite considerable government funding for issues that affect women and girls, the MMHN is currently seeking private sector donations to assist them in their mission to ‘to expand our knowledge of the human condition’ through the simple act of addressing the mental health needs of half of humanity: men and boys.