Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Male Mental Fitness

Hilary Valdez.
Hilary Valdez.

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Male Mental Fitness

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Men are suffering with depression and anxiety, yet they are the least likely to seek out therapy. If a man goes to therapy, he often will be speaking with a woman. Almost two-thirds of psychologists in the United States are women, 80 percent of clinical psychologists are women, and around 75 percent of psychology graduate students are women, according to Fran Walfish, Psy.D.

Male therapists are difficult to find, and yet, men respond better to therapy when it’s from a male therapist, according to Adam L. Smith, psychotherapist and author. Seeking help from a therapist, whether a man or a woman, should not be intimidating. What’s important is seeking help, communicating with your therapist about goals and concerns, and being patient with yourself.

“Men are seeking the ability to change the world around them from therapy; they want solutions-and want them fast,” Smith said. “For men, feeling unable to positively affect their environment appears to be the prelude to deep depression.”

During my time conducting group therapy sessions, I found that men want solutions to their troubles. I always focused on identifying deep beliefs and core values that fuel uncontrollable emotions. However, values change or become obsolete and often require reassessing the values which still align with your life.

As you take emotional inventory, put your thoughts and ideas into a new perspective. Bounce ideas off a friend, stop dreadful thinking, then identify your strengths. Identify what needs to be strengthened. 

Many people experience cumulative stress, which can lead to burnout and even physical illness. Whereas in a critical traumatic incident, your adaptive functioning is interrupted and that can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress. 

Ask yourself: what was the trigger that activated your emotions? Identify your thoughts. What did you say to yourself? What were your emotions? What were your reactions toward the event?
How did you behave? Was there another way to react or think? 

When under stress, don’t choke back your emotions – don’t act like a turtle and totally withdraw. Guys who choke back their feelings die younger. Talk to a friend. Go for a walk. Reach out! Learn to become your own best friend. Hug yourself. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Tell yourself: This is a bad day. But I’m getting better and better, every day, in every way. Pinch yourself on the cheek and say, “I like you!” 

If you are having thoughts of suicide or mental health-related distress, call 988 in the U.S. Seeking help and working with a professional, no matter if they’re a man or a woman, doesn’t have to be intimidating. Remember they’re there to help you, you just have to take the first step. Go “fear-ward!”


Hilary Valdez is a retiree living in Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.


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