On average men die seven years younger than women. They engage in higher rates of substance abuse and are four times more likely to complete a suicide attempt.
“There is a real need for clinicians and researchers to take another look at men’s issues,” explains Ryan McKelley, licensed psychologist and UW-L professor of psychology. “A lot of negative health indicators for men aren’t explained biologically.”
McKelley is getting the word out about men’s issues as a weekly guest on the online radio show, “The Secret Lives of Men.” Authors of books and documentaries on boy’s and men’s issues are interviewed on the show and McKelley follows up with his reactions. In the past, McKelley has been invited to speak about issues such as trust, intimacy and masculinity.
He has conducted plenty of research studies with the goal of understanding what is getting in the way of men taking better care of themselves and their relationships. A large part of his research focuses on masculinity and non-traditional ways to provide help for men other than therapy. McKelley has studied the role of fathers and recently published a study on stay-at-home fathers and why they transition into the role. He will launch a study this fall on men’s emotional expression.
“It’s not that men don’t cry,” says McKelley. “It’s that they don’t cry in certain environments.”
He also recently published an encyclopedia chapter in the “Encyclopedia of Women in Today’s World” on the social construction of masculinity.
“It’s not necessarily this innate biological thing — masculinity ebbs and flows depending on historical times and culture it’s embedded in,” he says. “For instance, there are Pacific Island states where men do the child rearing.”
Listen to McKelley online
McKelley participates in the radio show from 2-2:30 p.m. Tuesdays. “The Secret Lives of Men” is available here
Also, check out this segment on group therapy for men where McKelley and host Chris Blazina discuss the stereotypes about group therapy and the tendency of men to not seek psychological help as often as women. McKelley says studies show conflicting results regarding whether group therapy is a good option for men. In his opinion, it could be a viable option because men already naturally tend to congregate in social groups whether at sporting events or work-related functions.
“I think a men’s therapy group takes that model and adds extra layers to it,” explains McKelley. “I think if men think of it in those terms — we are going to get together and share some stories and maybe help each other out —it can make that process a little more palatable.”