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Man Therapy = Social Sterotype Therapy ?

Community Member

Dear BB,

There are so many types of man I guess this ad is geared at poking fun and creating awareness.    It's soooo much better than MY NAME IS ANXIETY.   Although I do have one question - it kind of implies that men need therapy and yet some men, say Nelson Mandela or Johnny Rotten, might not need or be beyond therapy.   Assumptions, assumptions.   Lol.

Adios, David.

14 Replies 14

Community Member

Dear BB,

"www.mantherapy.org.au" is what I believe they call "a hoot".   I visited the site and apart from the fake over the top Doctor referencing the site and seemingly everywhere with a clip on the ear phrase or semi sarcastic comment it seems to be pretty comprehensive.   An 18 question task will give any user some form of feedback and direct you to other areas.   They don't use a 1 to 10 score range just comments with the marks "so-so", "hot", etc.  Subjective analysis.

I gotta admit after a while the quasi rugby drinking bloke approach wore a bit thin so I decided to transfer a question from their FAQ section for you to judge for yourself:

"I've tried therapy before and it sucked.  Why should I get give it a second chance ?" [AS WRITTEN]

THE CONSIDERED ADVICE [not making this up, check the site]:   "Some guys have one bad thereapy experience ruin it for them like letting bad sex ruin intercourse or a bad slice of pizza ruin the greatest food ever.  Therapy works like a relationship.  Some matches are great.  Other's aren't so hot.  So before you give up on therapy, meet with more than one therapist.  You'll probably find one that you really get along with."   [This has been copied from the site WITHOUT PREJUDICE].

During the site use an icon regarding "So would you get treatment now ?" kept appearing with various degrees of response.   I guess this is the point of the blokey intent - to raise awareness and get some response, or as "www.mantherapy.org.au" would say, to "get off your keister".

It's a bit like being on the set of Two and a Half Men except than when the joke is on mental health it ultimately is also on a mental health sufferer.  But then most men with anger issues, depression or suicidal tendancies wouldn't think there was anything wrong with them anyway.    But then, as I left the site and went back into normal make a cup of tea land,  I realised the ultimate truth of the site is that when you make a frumpy joke about it you take out the judgement and replace it with laughable attitudes that has got to be better than suffering in silence.

Or maybe the site's name assumes too much that "Man Therapy" has to be  "Jock & Joke Therapy" ?   And why not ?  At least it puts a stop to hitting the wall.

Adios, David.

PS   Beyondblue didn't commision me to do this little review.   I just thought it was a new site on mental health - let's check it out.   But definatly for men !

Community Member

I understand the motivation of the "man theme" is well intended... I am certain however that such an approach on a woman's forum would receive reproach...

If Beyond Blue are "serious" about helping men they'll stop trivializing it and redress social values... more than half of the pictures on the home page are of women (7/16) first two pictures are female (young people, women)... 99% of commercials featuring an idiocy or inferiority use male actors... 98% of single gender health organizations are for women... the only thing worse than being an Australian male is being a Chinese women... in historical times were female children sometimes killed at birthe

Germaine Greer freed women from debasing stereotypes, male debasing stereotypes continue to thrive... and the theme of this website reinforces this

Dear Amigo,

There don't seem to be any drag queens on Man Therapy either.

Adios, David.

Dear BB & moderators,

The site "man therapy" has loopy Dr Brian Ironwood as a PR / narrator and it clearly states that he is not a real doctor but just someone to get communication going. Much of his phrasing and explainations are in the humourous vein.  I was a bit surprised to see Dr Brian Ironwood as one of the speakers in the BB's latest week of community awareness in late July 2013.  Did they run out of real doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists or psychologists ?

Was this real life use of Dr Brian Ironwood merely in the manner of a motivational speaker or just a crazy idea that their is a large and respectful following for this pseudo Doctor ?   Is this really a valid way to disseminate serious conditions like anxiety, depression, bipolar, PND, etc, by including a Mickey Mouse type character at the coalface of public interaction ?

It's great to have a budget to do ads like "I am anxiety" and promote the "www.mantherapy.org.au" site but it's also a mixed message.    "I am anxiety" is maybe too deadly serious and challenging and "mantherapy" is pretty out there. It's like Goldilocks - the porridge was too hot and then too cold.  What BB need is porridge that is "just right" - will they ever find the more sustainable and nourishing middle ground ?  Just saying.

Adios, David.

PS   There's a difference between responders having a laugh on a website and the main profile figure on a very public mental health website being a bit of a dick.


Hi David,

Thanks for the feedback around Man Therapy. We've passed it on to the Marketing and Men's teams here at bb.

Man Therapy Australia is based on a successful program launched in the US last year by the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention. Just to clarify, independent research showed us that humour provides a bridge for men to discuss and engage with this potentially difficult topic – which is what we hope we've achieved with Dr Brian Ironwood and Man Therapy. Man Therapy doesn’t set out to make fun of depression and anxiety; its particular use of humour communicates warmth, approachability and is non-judgemental. Instead of relying on stereotypes around ‘blokeyness’ and what it means to be a man, Man Therapy is poking fun at them. We know that many men don’t seek help because they fear it will make them look weak. Our message is that you can still be the stereotypical ‘blokey’ man and seek support for your mental health.

Since its launch, Man Therapy USA has generated over 225,000 unique visitors with an average of about 572 per day. The average visit time is around several minutes – which is very high for any website. More than 50,000 visitors have taken the “18-point head inspection,” which generates advice and recommendations. 90% of those who took the self-assessment reported that they were likely or very likely to use the advice.

It's early days with Man Therapy Australia and it is yet to be evaluated, but our results in terms of time spent on site, men taking the mind quiz have been very pleasing so far.



Dear Hugh,

I understand the message, just not the manner.

Don't the marketing peeps at BB see that they might be sending out a very mixed message by using (a) Ben Mendelsohn, a serious actor, in the "I am anxiety" clip (which has been "very successful", and (b) Dr Brian Ironwood, a larriken PR narrator on "www.mantherapy.org.au"  (which is blokey nonsense) ?

Your feedback that "Man Therapy is poking fun at them [stereotypes]" is merely making another stereotype out of an existing stereotype.   It seems that it's OK to call mental illness sufferers crazies and have a laugh NATIONALLY with "www.mantherapy.org.au".    A little bit of humour is great in dealing with this area but a whole website ?

For me, and I often use humour sporadically so I'm not being a wowser here, it's like BB has latched onto this American model, paraded the Amercian stats around and then left the nation with a sort of psuedo mental illness porn site.

You didn't answer my question as to why the [fake actor doctor] Dr Brian Ironwood would be booked as part of a serious Mental Health week without actually having  ANY training as a counsellor, doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist ?

Doesnt' that concern BB that the loony is now running the asylum, so to speak ?

Adios, David.

PS  Marketing is not Treatment.  I will get off my horse now.  (That's a more realistic humour ratio - 0 - 5% of a serious posting.   Not 110% because I can).

Dear Hugh & BB,

The American (original) "ManTherapy" has host Dr Rich Mahogany.  Small print points out [well, as much as small print can point anything out] that the "Man Therapist is not a therapist".   It's in print half the size of the main section, i.e. "MAN THERAPY MISSION", "WORRIED ABOUT SOMEONE".   In the Aussie version Dr Brian Ironwood has a similar small scale disclaimer to the effect that he is not a real therapist "but is a real man".  This is the title page and there is already a bit of tomfoolery.  Not that anyone reads small print......

For me, there are some great, warm, searching Testimonials on offer.   Here men who have suffered are presented as quiet, decent, balanced individuals with a story of personal growth.   In this section of quiet revelation there is no humour, no attempt to belittle and no need for "fun".  They are just genuine stories.

It sends out a strange message - you have to be drawn in by a complete boof head to then open up and be sincere when narrating mental health experiences.   This leads to two questions:

1)  Why not make the Testimonials zany, double entrende's, full of blokeyness and "she'll be right" mentality to be consistant with either Ironwood or Mahogany ?


2)  Why not dispense with the RSL of the fake Doctors Brian Ironwood & Rich Mahogany presentations and kick in with some open, soft talking, gently welcoming, non patronising presenter ?

Treatment isn't "fun".  Hugh's "average visit time is around several minutes - which is very high for any website" is an interesting mark.  Could it be that after the initial crazyness there is a tendancy for men to bail out when they get to the more serious part of the website, i.e. the Testamonials ?   A visit of several minutes covers this behaviour perfectly. 

I guess, men just want to be boof heads. Let's all just laugh at the stereotype. Or why not lead with the testamonials ?  But wouldn't that risk bringing in the numbers through poking fun ?  You can't fine tune something so out of kilter.


Dear BB,

Dr Brian Ironwood continues to intrigue me.   Congratulatons on his "dulcet tones" at the EFL Grand Final last Sat.  Gotta ask: "Where's the footage ?"

I have seriously been wondering if various treatment components for depression can 't be portrayed by this highly skilled young man.   Hooking up to have an ECT with the Grand Final generators being one crazy idea.  Or maybe if the iron is located in Dr Brian he will generate enough electricity to illuminate a Sat night game in future ?

Did he once get treated with an Iron Lung or have a leg in a splint ?  It seems that, and I have jested in part, you have an under used icon in the making and that the only way to get the BB message out is to give this remarkable chap a sit com.  There is the long running "Frasier", the vintage "M*A*S*H" Vietnam Army Medical Team so why not the "Ironwood ManTherapist" ?  (Not to be confused with fatty detective "Ironside", in a wheelchair, that ran in the '80's).

Does Beyondblue want to make an impact on society or not ?  It's got to be better than Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management" series.  Why go to all that work to create something that draws people out ?  He could even do House Calls like Dr Harry does with pets.  There's no end of creative media play with Dr Brian Ironwood.

Adios, David.

PS  Hugh "Man therapy is poking fun at them" - the BB adopted mission.

Hi David,

Should you be interested, the footage of Dr Brian's performance is on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLiNkrf4a0k

There's also a news round-up of the EFL Grand Final weekend here, including the impact and support that teams and the league have given to raising awareness of depression and anxiety: http://www.beyondblue.org.au/about-us/news/news/2013/09/23/dr-brian-ironwood-sings-national-anthem-a...


Online Community Manager