Men’s Struggle with Mental Health

By Scott Bragg, LPC, CAADC

Masculinity, or gender traits of being a man, is a debatable topic. Some features of masculinity are tied to the opinions of others. Where as, other traits are based on biological features of each person. Men vary in the extent of their gender traits. These differences can affect the health of boys and men.

Here are three factors that affect men’s health as they navigate masculinity.

1. Men struggle with naming feelings.

Guys struggle in finding the words for their emotions. The struggle makes it harder to deal with painful feelings. After all, one of the first steps in handling emotions is naming them.

2. Men have a hard time living up to perceived a role.

Men may get stuck in living up to standards that are set for them. For example, this may occur if men aren’t athletic or have difficulty speaking up. Traits such as courage, strength, and dominance are often expected for men. Therefore, gaps between expectations and one’s reality can lead to lower self-esteem and other issues.

3. Men are less likely to get help for their problems.

Unfortunately, men are less apt to seek treatment for sadness, worry, and other issues. Messages from society, learned values, and a fear of the unknown are common factors. Guys could become aggressive, show more anger, or exhibit violence when failing to deal with problems as well. Men have higher suicide rates, worse physical health, and an shorter lifespan than women. These outcomes have occurred partly due to men’s reluctance to address their mental health.

The factors listed only tell part of the story for men. Masculinity is not necessarily a negative quality of a man’s life. However, it can be toxic, if it leads to some of the problems listed above. Also, masculinity and gender norms are an evolving topic. Many have identified as transgender or non-binary, for example. Still, positive steps have been taken as mental health treatment has been encouraged more for men. Hopefully more men will continue to seek help for depression, anxiety, stress, and other issues.

Valuable resource:

(focus on pages 1-4)

Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselor in Pennsylvania. This blog is intended for educational purposes and should not serve as a substitute for seeking mental health treatment.

Unhealthy Alcohol Use: The Elephant in the COVID Room

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

By Scott Bragg

Alcohol use as a part of our culture appears to not being going anywhere any time soon. However, the grim fact is that there is a real risk for many to develop unhealthy patterns of use. The COVID-19 pandemic appears to have led to a surge into binge drinking. Also, it’s likely led to patterns of use warranting treatment with a substance use counselor.

Here are some signs that may indicate a need for help with alcohol use…..

Drinking more, but getting the same result

You may start to have a few drinks here and there during the week. Then, your intake of alcohol increases. Next, you are now drinking several glasses of wine or cans of beer most nights. Though, you now need to continue drinking to replicate the relaxed feeling that you experienced when you started to use alcohol as a stress reliever (or just a way to relax).

Ignoring obligations or responsibilities

It is common to “chill” and “take a load off” now and then. However, if you are less responsive to important obligations, then this is likely a red flag. For example, at times, alcohol users may not be as present with their children or even unable to engage while intoxicated or hungover. At the least, we run the risk of devoting less time to hobbies or activities that serve as healthy outlets when drinking gets out of hand.


Alcohol use can be considered a “problem” when we are experiencing negative effects after stopping use. Physical signs of withdrawal can include shakiness, sweating, or loss of appetite. Nausea and vomiting can also occur. Our mood can be shifted as well and we can become restless or agitated after stopping alcohol use. Abrupt ending of daily alcohol use (when it is heavy) will also lead to increased heart rate, tremors, headaches, and even seizures. It is important to contact a medical provider if any severe withdrawal symptoms occur.

Continuing use even After Depression, etc.

Our mood can be affected by unhealthy alcohol use. After all, it is considered a depressant. Unfortunately, many will then continue a pattern of excessive alcohol use, despite being depressed. Of course, there are physical health issues that occur due to increased alcohol use. Examples include liver issues, heart problems. high blood pressure, along with digestive problems.

Cravings, cravings, and more cravings

Obviously, it is normal to want a beer on a warm day or to enjoy a glass of champagne to celebrate a happy occasion. However, it becomes next level when we are constantly preoccupied with getting drunk. Constant cravings are another red flag when it comes to alcohol use.

If you find that the majority of these signs apply to you (or a loved one) then it is important to find help. It is best to seek treatment as early as possible. This blog serves as a guide for education and not to judge or shame others.

Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselors in the state of PA.

This purpose of this blog is to provide education and entertainment. It does not serve as a substitute for seeking mental health or substance abuse treatment.

About Being a New Dad

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

By Scott Bragg

Describing fatherhood as a lifestyle change is a definite understatement. It is a significant life event that leads to joyous moments, adversity, learning experiences, and other new adventures.

With all those changes occurring, there are a few elements of becoming a father that are unexpected by some.

1. There are times that you may feel like being a dad is unpleasant.

If you are reading this before the birth of your first child then this may come as a surprise. On the other hand, you may feel validated and relate to the statement (as a current or expectant father). Being a new father is a wonderful blessing. However, self-doubt, anxiety, identity issues, worrying about finances, and other internal conflicts are not uncommon. In fact, studies have shown that approximately 10 percent of new fathers experience postpartum depression. It is , of course, important to find emotional support as a father.

2. At times, you are more sleep deprived and mentally drained than you anticipated.

You are likely prepared for or at least expecting your baby to affect your sleep. That said, it is not to be overlooked that less sleep leads to a temporary decline in IQ, poor memory, slower reaction time, and irritability. So, if you are not as sharp as you were before the baby was in your life, then this is normal.

3. Challenges are normal.

Being a new father is unfamiliar territory. Many dads often find themselves participating in baby duties such as diaper changing, bottle feeding, swaddling, and even helping out with breast feeding. On the other hand, it is not out of the ordinary for dads to feel inadequate while learning the process. Like anything else, we can “hang in there” and discover what works for us. Trial and error is key here.

Becoming a dad is no doubt stressful in some ways – some positive and some negative. Like other challenges in our lives, we adjust to the situations that will arise. It is important to remind ourselves that we got this. Our lives are not “over”, but there may be times when we need others for help. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to others for assistance. Regardless, fun days are ahead. Enjoy the ride!

Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselor (CAADC) in the state of Pennsylvania. He has passion for helping men with mood disorders, especially new dads.

The purpose of this blog is to educate and entertain. It does not replace treatment from a mental health professional.

About Acceptance

Image by John Hain from Pixabay

by Scott Bragg

Acceptance is a concept that is discussed widely throughout self-help programs.  It is a big part of one’s recovery, whether it is for mental health or substance abuse issues.  The concept may be simple in theory, but not necessarily easy to practice.

Here is an introduction in defining acceptance that begins to scratch the surface….

Acceptance is not approval

Accepting an event or situation does not mean that you like or approve of what has occurred.  It is merely an acknowledgment of what has happened.  It consists of coming to terms with an unfortunate situation.  A timely example is that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging lifestyle change for many.  As a result, people have come to terms with many changes in routine, such as a stay at home order.   Of course, most people are not pleased that restaurants, bars and malls are not open.  However, many choose to accept this because of the pandemic, or at least have realized that we cannot control the situation at hand. Acceptance allows us to feel

Acceptance deals with feelings head on

The act of acceptance opens doors for us to endure our feelings.  Sometimes those feelings experienced are difficult for us.  Sometimes they are not so difficult.   However, when practicing acceptance we learn tools reinforcing the ability to “sit with” our feelings.  These tools prevent us from avoiding our feelings, which can lead to unhealthy coping skills.  Self-harm, excessive use of alcohol or other drugs, and verbal aggression are examples of unhealthy coping skills caused by avoidance.

Acceptance leads to change

Accepting an event or situation is a launching pad for change.  While avoidance leads to being stagnant or even going back to old ways, acceptance allows us to move on.  For example, when an individual acknowledges having anxiety, depression or other issues, they will learn to deal with those issues.  The acknowledgement of the issues then leads to learning new skills and building confidence going forward.  

This blog offers a glimpse into how the process of accepting.  Many people struggle with acceptance when their lives become unmanageable.  Seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness or failure.  It is a positive step that can lead to lasting change when partnered with the right therapist.

Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Addictions Counselor (CAADC) in the state of Pennsylvania. He has passion for helping men with mood disorders, especially new dads.

The purpose of this blog is to educate and entertain. It does not replace treatment from a mental health professional.

Online Therapy: Pros and Cons

Image by M Ameen from Pixabay

By Scott Bragg

The advent of video chat software platforms have led to changes in the delivery of healthcare. In particular, mental health providers, such as therapists and psychiatrists, now provide these services online. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this need for services given the restrictions that have put forth due to social distancing.

There are pros and cons to consider before deciding to participate in online therapy. Let’s start with the cons……..

1. Tech. issues

The internet, while allowing us to connect remotely during the pandemic, leads us to be at the mercy of technology issues that we have little or no control over. Nuisances occur, such as, video calls being dropped, lag times (the delay between our words being received by the other party), and links to sessions not working. Also, from the therapist’s perspective, it has been a learning process for me as well.

2. Sacrifice face to face impact

There are some major limitations to conducting therapy over the internet. I strongly believe that the most important limitation is that both parties are not in the same room should an emergency occur. An emergency could consist medically or psychiatrically (ie. the patient has suicidal thoughts). It is vital for the therapist to be aware of the patient/client’s address while doing remote therapy. Knowing the address allows the therapist to notify 911 and/or other emergency contacts of the individual’s whereabouts as needed.

3. Unnatural

Video therapy puts individuals in unfamiliar territory. Meanwhile, therapists are uncomfortable when using these platforms initially. Both parties may be self-conscious while looking at ourselves on camera while showing our home in the background.

Make sense? Now, let’s take a look at the pro’s.

1. Convenience

Therapy from a remote location grants at least one party the opportunity to conduct the session at home or at a neutral venue. Of course, this allows the individual to not have to travel to the destination of the therapist’s office. The familiar room may offset other issues when it comes to comfort.

2. Flexibility

Video also provides opportunities for therapy that would not likely exist by sole use at the thearpist’s office. For instance, the process allows for a wider range between both parties. Using teletherapy, the only major restriction in terms of distance is that the patient needs to be located in the state that the professional is licensed. This scenario is likely most useful in the event that a long-time client were to move within the state. It would allow the therapist to continue to conduct therapy with an individual.

3. Non-verbal cues.

Facial expressions are easier to detect, in some ways, due to the individual being close up on the device while using video therapy. This advantage may seem one-sided. However, when the therapist notices subtle gestures, such as a client/patient “tearing up” briefly, the therapeutic impact is most likely enhanced.

There are many factors to look at before using online therapy for wellness. Examples of these factors include the extent of one’s mental health disorder(s), the individual’s insurance coverage for telehealth, access to internet connection, along with one’s established relationship with therapist (if there is one to begin with) before using online therapy. Finally, it is of utmost importance the platform used online is within the current HIPAA (privacy act) restrictions.

Scott Bragg is a Licensed Professional Counselor and certified drug and alcohol counselor (CAADC) in Pennsylvania.