A nurse once asked Ronald Ulysses Swanson, “Do you have any history of mental illness in your family?”
“I have an uncle who does yoga,” Ron admitted.
For seven seasons, Swanson bestowed profound words of timeless wisdom on the classic sitcom “Parks and Recreation.” And yet, we can’t in good conscience recommend taking mental health advice from the mustachioed Director of the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department, no matter how funny he is.
Dr. Rich Mahogany? He gets our full endorsement.
Full disclosure: Dr. Mahogany is a fictional psychologist, but the advice he shares on the Man Therapy website is authentic and invaluable. It’s also hilarious.
Man Therapy is the result of a multi-agency effort that leverages humor and technology to encourage guys who won’t even ask for directions to ask for help with their mental health. According to Cactus Inc.:
“Research showed that men thought getting help for their mental health was weak and unmanly. To make the challenge even harder, research also showed that by the time a man had reached a point of crisis, it was too late. The issue needed a new approach – one that would connect with men on their terms and get them the tools to work on their mental health issues long before they were in crisis. We needed men to believe taking care of their mental health was manly, like hitting the gym for your brain.”
The website is loaded with all sorts of nuggets that could have been taken directly from an episode of “Parks and Rec,” if Ron had one day decided to get his psychology degree.
“A mustache is no place to hide your emotions.”
“According to science, bad things can happen to men too.”
“That funny feeling inside might not be burrito-related.”
And the videos are an absolute riot. (We won’t tell you our favorites; just watch them all.)
But underneath the humor is a vital message: As men, we have to move past the stigma associated with mental health issues to see that real strength and courage is choosing to seek help for things like anger, anxiety, depression, grief and addiction.
Man Therapy offers resources for these topics and many more, including local solutions that can be found in 10 different states (including Ohio). Men are encouraged to take what the site calls a 20-Point Head Inspection which delivers real-time results and connects them with a variety of mental health tips, tools and resources. Cactus Inc. reports 375,000+ men have taken the head inspection, out of more than 1 million visitors.
The site also connects men to the Lifeline Crisis Chat for “nonjudgmental support and help through a difficult time,” the T2 Mood Tracker, featured partners like Life XT and KyndHub, and HelpPRO, which helps men find a “professional Man Therapist” in their area.
Ron Swanson, an avid woodworker, once gave a colleague a handcrafted wooden box as a going away gift. When the colleague became emotional over Ron’s generosity, Ron said, “Saltwater will warp the wood, so keep your tears in your eyes where they belong.”
What does Rich Mahogany have to say? “It’s OK to cry, even when it’s not about sports.”
Men, when it comes to your mental health, listen to Rich Mahogany, not Ron Swanson.
(But when it comes to woodworking and breakfast foods, you should definitely listen to Ron Swanson.)