Men and women tend to deal with life changing circumstances differently. Heart disease is no exception, and the issues men experience often are not specifically addressed.
“Cultural expectations are that men shouldn’t show any emotions because that’s somehow perceived as weak,” said Heather Tulloch, PhD, a psychologist with Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation at the Ottawa Heart Institute. “As a result, many don’t reach out for help or get services when they need them.”
Dr. Tulloch is helping to develop a new program called Mind the Heart. Funded by the men’s health Movember campaign, the program is geared toward mental health issues that men encounter as a consequence of heart disease. Indeed, close to half of people who have a heart attack will experience some symptoms of depression, about 20% have anxiety and a quarter have symptoms of post traumatic stress (PTSD).
“Now, we’re really going to focus on that group. We’re going to help them by addressing emotional needs in a way that appeals to men,” she explained.
The Heart Institute will be one of six centres in Canada testing the program. While the Institute already has programs for both men and women, Mind the Heart will be integrated with those targeting men. A total of 3,000 individuals will be enrolled and offered a series of assessments and tools to help them through emotional health issues related to their heart disease, said Paul Greenman, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Montfort Hospital Research Institute in Ottawa, professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais in Gatineau, Quebec and one of the principal investigators of the project.