Whether they’re conscious of it or not, many men struggle to identify and seek help for symptoms of depression. HeadsUpGuys – an online tool developed by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk and his team of clinicians, researchers, and mental health advocates – was designed to support men on their terms, in a way that respects men’s needs while also nudging them in the direction of help when help is needed. Dr. Ogrodniczuk is a Professor and Director of the Psychotherapy Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
“The Internet has become an important tool for people seeking health information, with some reports suggesting that people are twice as likely to seek health information from the Internet and self-service technologies including smartphone apps, than a healthcare professional,” says Dr. Ogrodniczuk. “The Internet may address men’s strong desire for independence and autonomy and provide a non-confrontational medium through which to start the help-seeking process.”
The site is cleverly designed, with minimal text to read through and a friendly, tip-based approach that gives users easy access to information and advice. It’s designed for men and their supporters, and is an accessible, anonymous way for Canadian men to receive guidance for managing and recovering from depression. The factors that may prevent many men from acknowledging or seeking help for mental illness are numerous and complex, and so a tool such as HeadsUpGuys bridges a gap, fulfilling the need for a reliable, accurate online health resource that normalizes help-seeking in practical, straightforward terms.
“The way that men think about how they should behave as men can be quite unhelpful,” says Dr. Ogrodniczuk. “Most men do not like to admit that they feel vulnerable or uncertain, and so are less likely to talk about their feelings with their friends, partner, family, or doctor. Data also reveal that men are more likely to present to the emergency department than to general practice, and this relates to men’s denial of illness, longer self-surveillance, and reliance on self-management strategies.”
“We need to focus on providing health services and information that are relevant and responsive to men’s needs,” says Dr. Ogrodniczuk. HeadsUpGuys is doing just that, by positioning itself as a resource for men and their loved ones to take the first step toward understanding depression, managing the symptoms, and addressing care from a broad perspective.
HeadsUpGuys was developed through the generous support of the Movember Foundation and is based at UBC. It’s part of the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network, a Canada-wide initiative to develop resources, services, and programs to improve the mental health and well-being of men. For more information, visit headsupguys.ca.