I’m TikTok famous. Depending on how you define famous. I have a TikTok account that has garnered about 750,000 views, I have just under 39,000 followers and my most popular video has been viewed over 361,000 times.
But the one video that I’m most proud of, the one that first went “viral” has over 125,000 views and has resulted in 1,120 comments is one I did about the National Crisis Hot Line for fathers. In it I hold two dvds a client sent me. One was for me, one for his kids. He was in such a distressed situation that removing himself seemed the best solution for him. Thankfully he didn’t do that.
But the point of the video is that 1) men have mental health concerns, 2) we need to address them more openly and honestly, and 3) there is not enough being done to help them.
Turns out that men in America have a mental health crisis on our hands and there is very little being done to stop it. By now I’m sure we’ve all heard about the 22 veteran suicides a day and how the Veteran’s Administration is underfunded and incapable of helping to stop that daily uptick in tragedy.
California has multiple Women’s Commissions. Santa Monica used to, I believe it’s now part of the Human Services Commission which has no members yet on the website. Its mission statement is “The Commission shall act in an advisory capacity to the City Council in all matters pertaining to the social, economic, and wellness needs of vulnerable community members including, but not limited to, marginalized populations, low-income households, older adults, women and girls (including transgender women and girls), people of color, and people experiencing homelessness.”
I note the decided lack of language that addresses men, men’s issues or even the term, “male identifying persons”. Should I be shocked? No. Do I have a shot at being appointed, even though I applied to the Women’s Commission, hardly. I can’t imagine a single member of the current council having the courage to put an advocate for men up for any commission. Even as an openly gay man, I don’t have a chance of being considered.
But it’s not all bad news for the state of our men. This past weekend a new mental health emergency number went live to provide access to resources. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, they can now dial 988 to reach a 24/7 crisis center to provide support and direct them to help.
California has funded call centers with a $20 million budget last year and it’s increasing this year by an additional $8 million. The new system is expected to create an uptick in calls. With 58 counties though, it’s not always efficient for each county to handle their own calls, even though the ‘boots on the ground’ folks like to say that local knows best, it’s not always practical.
We have a long way to go in providing resources and services to everyone who needs mental health help, and frankly we have a longer way to go with men. There’s too much stigma attached to having a mental health crisis. There’s too much condemnation when a man says he feels anxious/scared/worried/sad/depressed.
Often when a man discloses his emotional state, it is weaponized against him, sometimes by other men, more often by spouse. I’m sure I’ll get some heat for that comment, which kinda proves my point…
I’m a member of a couple of men’s groups. I have a therapist I see weekly, I have a business coach I speak with throughout the month. I have a strong support network of men and women to help me address the daily struggles of life, running a business, being worried about clients. It’s not easy to shoulder all the responsibilities of this world, no matter how you identify.
The good news is that we’re making a bit of progress with the new 988 emergency line. Use it if you need to.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra