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Why Give | Impact stories

HeadsUpGuys: Empowering men's mental health

Launched during Men’s Health Week of June 2015, the donor-funded HeadsUpGuys program has given men the tools, hope and strength to cope with depression and prevent suicide.

Waiting in a church parking lot to pick up her daughter from a class, Brandi encountered a man also parked in the lot clearly in distress.

“Hey, sorry to bother you, but do you know if there’s anyone in the church that could talk to me? I’m really depressed.”

Knowing there were only children learning inside that day, Brandi took a deep breath and said, “I’m so sorry you’re having a hard day. That’s really heavy … I don’t think anyone in there can help you at the moment. However, I do know of a great website with lots of resources for people who are in the same place as you are right now. It’s called HeadsUpGuys.”

The man was immediately grateful for the help. On his phone, he pulled up the HeadsUpGuys website—an online resource dedicated to men’s mental health. He was so happy to have a place to seek information easily and quickly in that hard moment. After browsing the site for 10 minutes, he honked, waved, said “thank you so much” and drove away.

“I felt so relieved that I was armed with the name of the site,” says Brandi. “Before I wouldn’t have known what to say or how to help a guy like that, and might even have felt frightened to roll down my window. Instead, I had an answer.”

In the often silent struggle against depression, men face unique challenges that make seeking help difficult. Men die by suicide at a rate three times higher than women in Canada, the US, and the UK, with suicide ranking as a leading cause of death for men under 50 years old. Despite these alarming statistics, men are much less likely than women to seek help for their mental health.

HeadsUpGuys was launched in 2015 under the leadership of Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, Professor of Psychiatry and the Director of the Psychotherapy Program at UBC. It was the result of a simple survey in a doctor’s waiting room, where men indicated they were having suicidal thoughts, yet failed to mention them to the doctor they were about to see. This revelation led to the creation of an online, anonymous resource specifically designed for men and their families, aimed at preventing the continued erosion of men’s mental health and deaths by suicide.

Operational costs of HeadsUpGuys are entirely donor-funded and, in the nine years since it launched, it has become a trusted resource for men struggling with depression, reaching over four million people worldwide. In 2023 alone, HeadsUpGuys connected over 6,000 men with mental health professionals. None of that would have been possible without the support of donors who have shown they care about male mental health.

The need continues to grow. As more men access this essential resource, they spread the word.

“As a man, I feel HeadsUpGuys has given me a resource to share with colleagues and friends to support men with mental health issues,” says one person.

One beneficiary felt HeadsUpGuys was crucial to his recovery. “I found this website during a very dark period of my life, and it gave me so much hope. All the resources before this were really general, but HeadsUpGuys helped me feel more connected.”

The impact of HeadsUpGuys is profound. Over 75% of men who complete the Self Check, a depression screening tool, meet the criteria for probable depression. HeadsUpGuys underscores the crucial role in identifying and addressing mental health issues in men—and to let them know they’re not alone, as one man found.

“HeadsUpGuys has made me realize that I’m not the only one struggling with mental health issues.”

After helping a stranger in need, Brandi knows HeadsUpGuys is an invaluable resource for the men she cares about.

“HeadsUpGuys is such an important creation, and I love that I now have a place to send all of the people in my life who have brothers, husbands and dads that need this.”

Your donation will allow HeadsUpGuys to connect with even more men and their families, so men struggling with depression feel it is safe to ask for help.

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