Help seeking behaviour in men

In terms of accessing medical care, support services and behaviour change programs, men are well known for waiting until the situation is desperate before reaching out for help. This approach to problem solving is often driven by socialised messages that they alone will be able to survive and manage the situation. Also they may fear that when other people are involved in the situation, it may ‘bring it to a head’ or make the situation worse.

When men are confronted by a crisis they feel inadequate to resolve themselves, they are more likely to reach out for support. Separated fathers are the single largest group of men who are known for their help seeking behaviour and will actively look for support from services. During these crises, a short ‘window period’ occurs where men are likely to accept help and support. If the crisis passes without obtaining support they may not engage again until the next crisis occurs, if at all.

 Help-seeking behaviour for men can appear as:

These behaviours are often driven by a variety of feelings that are not explicitly expressed to other people. Some of the feelings separated fathers use to describe their experience are:

The urgency in their attempt to find help may need to be refined or focussed to ensure they effectively access a service. In accessing help, men can tell a long story of all the events that occurred and justify why they need support. This may not be helpful if the intake worker or telephone receptionist does not have enough time to listen and starts to cut the man off. Help seeking behaviour can be channelled by highlighting the key questions men need to answer to obtain the required help.

These questions allow the worker to understand what the service user needs and how the worker can respond. If the worker suggests solutions that have already been unsuccessful, men can easily become frustrated. Using a solution focussed approach to counselling, the worker may propose a range of options that include the service user obtaining legal advice, accessing a support group or seeing a doctor etc. Self care options may include visiting a general practitioner, the local community health centre or phoning Mensline Australia, when required.

17 - Generative chill and help seeking behaviours with separated fathers

Child focussed practice

It is now broadly recognised that child-focussed practice is useful to use when working with men. It enables the creation of relevant discussions with men regarding their family, their insights, concerns and the possible changes that are required. While it is a concept primarily used in mediation and family separation dispute resolution, it is a valuable concept that can be utilised in many other family contexts.

Child-inclusive practices ( ) have been systematically introduced into the community mediation field in Australia over the last 10 years and have been substantially developed and researched in that time. Child-focussed practice occurs when professionals actively give the child a voice by helping the parent(s) to develop their understanding and awareness of their child’s needs to encourage the parent(s) to keep this as a focus. Child inclusive practice involves either directly bringing the child into sessions with the parent(s) or giving the child a voice through a third party practitioner such as in a mediation process.

McIntosh (2007)

outlines a model of child-focussed practice to:

12 - Applying the generative perspective


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