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Healthy Men: Ending gender stereotypes for men seeking mental health services

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- In early March, the Colorado Attorney General announced a plan to stop suicide. This initiative comes after El Paso County was ranked with the highest suicide rate in the state. One psychiatry practice in Colorado Springs found those numbers alarming but thinks there are some positive developments, one being that gender role barriers are coming down for men seeking help.

According to the Attorney General, between 2015 and 2020, El Paso County recorded more deaths by suicide than any other county in Colorado. In 2019, the county logged 180 deaths. With new state initiatives to end suicide, one Colorado Springs practice is receiving a higher number of calls for help.

"I do believe people are becoming a little more open to the idea of talking about their feelings and seeking help for things and the old adage of you just suck it up and move on," says Erin Recinos. I think people are starting to see mental illnesses are more like physical illnesses and there is an actual issue that needs to be addressed and you can seek help."

Erin Recinos is the founder and CEO of Bright Futures Psychiatry. Recinos says they've had to grow their business since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More people than ever before are seeking treatment at her practice.

"On average about 400 people a week," says Recinos.

Data shows young people, veterans, older adults, LGBTQ+ and middle middle-aged men in our community are at the highest risk for death by suicide.

Recinos says middle-aged men are especially at risk given the generational stigma of bottling up feelings.

"Help people open those lines of communication and they can see that it is normal, everyone has feelings and it's not only isolated to only girls or boys and feelings are not necessarily bad," says Recinos.

Depression isn't a one size fits all model, health officials say mental illness looks different for everyone.

"Sometimes people think depression is the little blue person that's laying on the couch and sad and crying and a lot of times that's not what depression looks like," says Recinos. "Depression can be anxious, or angry, a lot of times people will withdrawal and not talk as much."

Recinos encourages men to lead by example in casual family environments.

"Take dinner conversations and use it as modeling," says Recinos. "You know I had this happen to me today and it made me, but this is how I got over it or talked about it and it helped me feel better."

Suicide is the leading cause of death among adults aged 26-55 in the U.S. according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. And rates are rising with men.

Serious life changes such as relationship problems, unemployment, substance abuse, and poverty can lead to increased risk. COVID and all the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic hasn't helped either.

If you or someone you know seems off or needs help, it's out there call 9-1-1. Other resources include:

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Brynn Carman

Brynn is an anchor on Good Morning Colorado. Learn more about Brynn here.

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