Workshop takes a look at men and depression

Vernon Suicide Prevention Committee

Men struggling with depression, family members, service providers and community members are invited to the Vernon Suicide Prevention Committee presentation Men and Depression Oct. 26.

The presenters are Ken Spotswood, a male survivor of addiction and depression; Kelly Fehr, manager of shelter services, John Howard Society of the North Okanagan and Kootenay Region; and Hellmut Noelle, counsellor specializing in male sexual abuse, The Family Resource Centre for the North Okanagan. The presenters will share their professional and personal experiences with depression.

Noelle finds that about 35 to 40 per cent of his client load — 12 to 16 men at any one time in  individual, open-ended counselling — are men who have experienced sexual abuse.

“If you go back even 10 years ago, and definitely 20 years ago, the idea that men could be sexually abused wasn’t talked about. Now it is more accepted and other community services are aware of the programs and the help available,” said Noelle.

“When men are able to receive counselling, they find that the anger, fear, shame, blame, substance abuse and nightmares are all reduced. They have better relationships and things are better for them at work and all areas of their lives. They become more comfortable with what happened and can even accept that good things that can come out of bad.”

Noelle suggests that men who want counselling for sexual abuse call the Family Resource Centre and come in to talk. They do not have to say when they make the appointment that they want counselling for sexual abuse. If the abuse is more recent, it should be reported to the RCMP. Even if there is not enough evidence for charges, reports can be useful to the police in dealing with someone who may still be offending.

“All the topics of the presentation fit together. We talk about self care, how to move out of depression and that there is hope and you can have a life after abuse, addictions and depression,” said Noelle.

The workshop will cover addictions, anger, relationships, past trauma, disabilities and spirituality, with question and answer time to follow. Vernon is fortunate in that the only other programs for men who have been sexually abused are in larger centres — Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria.

Men and Depression takes place Oct. 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Centre. There is no charge for the event, which includes coffee and snacks. RSVP to