Six million men are affected by depression each year in the United States alone. And, suicide rates for men are four times higher than for women.
Health experts are recognizing a gender gap in acknowledging mental health issues. Men are much more likely to address a physical issue than admit to having mental well-being problems. It’s costing them and their families so much.
Derek Newborn is the picture of health and good fortune. “I started out as a personal trainer and then became a full-time fitness model,” Newborn said.
He was an inspirational figure with a significant social media presence. But the large following and his outward appearance could have fooled anyone. “At the height of my modeling career, when everything at surface level looked amazing. Everything on the inside, my life was actually falling apart in every aspect possible,” said Newborn.
Newborn struggles with his mental health. But because he was the strong, silent type, he tried to bury his depression.
“There’s just this massive black hole of emptiness and unworthiness and constantly wanting to hide and avoid people. There’s been two suicide attempts,” he said. “Each one a little closer to the… to the end than the first one. I’d never in my life thought I would ever get to that point. But when depression has a hold of you, you do some very scary things.”
Even though he felt alone, he wasn’t. Depression and suicide are the number one cause of death among men. Data shows that men are far less likely to seek help for their mental health issues than women.
Dr. Paul Simeone is the medical director at Lee Health’s Behavioral Health Center. “They don’t want to talk about their emotional lives. And, you know, it’s hard for them to admit that they have difficulties. It’s getting better, but we still have work to do,” Dr. Simeone said.
“I had to make a decision to either run away and avoid all that and continue hurting the people I love the most. Or, look in the mirror,” said Newborn.
Newborn found out that counseling works for him. Now, he uses his following to support others. “Because I know there’s other… other men that if they take the steps that I did, they can avoid the rock bottom,” Newborn said.
Newborn has a sincere interest in helping others navigate their way to good mental health. So much so that he’s refocused his career and now includes life coaching.
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