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Utah News

New Campaign Helps Men Laugh Their Way To Mental Health

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Melissa Allison
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Innovative campaign was launched in Oct. to help men open up about mental health

Dr. Richard Mahogany is a fictional therapist and spokesperson for Man Therapy - an innovative campaign that began in Colorado. The program has become the latest included in an initiative of the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition to address men’s mental health. The campaign was launched this past October in Utah to address an unusually high rate of suicides among men.

“In Utah, the highest suicide rates are among men ages of about 25 to 64," said Kimball Gardner, program director for the Prevention by Design program of National Association of Mental Illness Utah. "I mean, the data is very, very clear and that’s is why the Suicide Prevention Coalition started looking for opportunities to help with that particular problem and so, the working men demographic is 25 to 64 and that’s who we’re trying to help with Man Therapy.”

Every day in Utah, only two men are treated for suicide attempts for every four women.

“We know men try to rely on their own devices, on themselves," Gardner said. "And so that’s a big distinction between how men approach mental health and how women approach mental health.” 

In 2014  555 people in Utah died by suicide.  Seventy-five percent of those deaths were men.

The campaign is tailored for men to combat the stigma that asking for help is “unmanly”.

“It’s perfectly manly, in fact, it’s more manly to admit and acknowledge that ‘I need help,’" Gardner said. "And take the time and effort to find resources than it is to keep it hidden.”

Gardner said people might be afraid to ask someone they know if they require suicide prevention help.

“When someone who cares is aware of a problem or challenge someone is having and asks the question, ‘are you feeling suicidal' or ‘I am wondering if since you’re in so much pain if you’re suicidal," Gardner said,"That’s the question that relieves the stress and opens the conversation." 

He said in Utah there are more deaths from suicide than there are because of automobile accidents, homicides and war, combined.

Gardner said that many people struggling with depression or mental health issues can feel hopeless and lonely and may believe there isn't help available. 

According to Gardner this newest campaign featuring the fictional character 'Dr. Richard Mahogany' has already seen success in helping reduce the number of suicides among men in Utah.  He says it may be the fact that he relates to men who take advice from someone who is part doctor, part football coach, part drinking buddy, and 100 percent action hero.