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FH Blog



On July 25th, 2023 Foundation House hosted THE REAL for an engaging discussion on men’s mental health - when times are tough and in transition - and how to find ways to seek support, improve outlook, and rediscover purpose in life.  

The discussion was led by Brent Herd and Shawn Lesser, highly successful men in the corporate field who went through their own mental health challenges.  This has inspired them to launch THE REAL. THE REAL is a global movement to support and foster the mental health and well being of men across the globe. THE REAL intends to question societal narratives, provide space for expression, and encourage peers to be seen authentically amongst each other.  

The evening also included other advocates and experts in the field of mental health, including Third Half Advisors, founded by Caroline Brecker and Campbell Gerrish,  leaders in the financial industry, who recognized the need to help people during their key life transitions, especially into retirement.  They formed Third Half Advisors, which offers programs to help with life’s transitions into the “Third Half”.


In today's society, discussions around mental health have gained significant traction, breaking down long-standing stigmas and encouraging individuals to seek help when needed. While this progress is undeniably positive, there remains a vital yet often overlooked aspect of mental health support – the well-being of men. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), an estimated 18% of men in the United States have had a mental illness in the past year. This means that about 1 in 5 men will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.

The most common mental illnesses among men are:

  • Depression: About 6.7% of men will experience depression at some point in their lives.

  • Anxiety disorders: About 18.1% of men will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

  • Substance use disorders: About 14.1% of men will experience a substance use disorder at some point in their lives.

The men's mental health crisis is a serious problem that is often overlooked. Men are less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women, and this can lead to worse outcomes.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the men's mental health crisis, including:

  • Social expectations: Men are often expected to be strong and stoic, and they may feel pressure to bottle up their emotions. This can make it difficult for them to reach out for help when they need it.

  • Lack of awareness: There is a lack of awareness about men's mental health issues, both in the general public and among healthcare providers. This can make it difficult for men to get the help they need.

  • Access to care: There are fewer mental health resources available for men than for women. This is especially true in rural areas.

The consequences of the men's mental health crisis can be severe. Men are more likely to die by suicide than women.  In 2020, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for men in the United States. Men are also more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions that are linked to mental health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.


The Real was founded when Shawn experienced a profound mental breakdown, leading him into a dark and challenging place. During this time, Brent, who had been on a personal journey of self-discovery, stepped forward to become Shawn's ‘Guardian Angel’. 

The two started The Real in an effort to raise awareness about the stigmas around men's mental health through presentations and intimate group discussions, candidly shedding light on this crucial issue and encouraging others to seek help. The two spoke on how the societal expectations that men should be stoic and independent hinder them from seeking help, leading to silent suffering and isolation. 

Relating these findings to Shawn’s personal experience with mental health, they garnered a conversation with the audience around finding opportunities to support, bring awareness, and address the issue within personal relationships, family dynamics, and communities at large. 

As examples of high performing business men, Brent and Shawn share that no man is excluded from issues of mental health regardless of their achievements and financial stability. Instead, there are many challenges experienced with such levels of success. These challenges include high levels of stress due to demanding workloads and expectations, imposter syndrome leading to self-esteem struggles, work-life balance difficulties causing burnout, financial pressures causing anxiety, social isolation from career demands, perfectionism leading to anxiety and depression, substance use as a coping mechanism, and emotional suppression due to societal expectations around masculinity. It is vital to acknowledge that mental health problems can affect anyone, regardless of their success, and seeking professional help and support is crucial. 


There are a number of things that can be done to address the men's mental health crisis. These include:

  • Changing social expectations: We need to change the social expectations that put pressure on men to be strong and stoic. We need to encourage men to talk about their emotions and to seek help when they need it.

  • Raising awareness: We need to raise awareness about men's mental health issues. This includes educating the general public and healthcare providers about these issues.

  • Increasing access to care: We need to increase access to mental health resources for men. This includes making sure that there are more mental health providers in rural areas.

The men's mental health crisis is a serious problem, but it is one that can be addressed. By changing social expectations, raising awareness, and increasing access to care, we can help to ensure that men get the help they need.

By promoting open conversations and breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health, The Real seeks to empower men to find support and prevent harmful coping mechanisms. On their tour, they aim to spread the message to organizations and congregations nationwide to make a difference in saving men's lives and supporting their families in the process. Encouraging open discussions about mental health, such as the one’s being held by The Real, can help destigmatize seeking assistance and promote overall well-being for all individuals.

The information provided here is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified mental health professional with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or heard. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please contact your local emergency services or a mental health hotline. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk. The content is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a therapist-client relationship. The information provided herein is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional advice on investment, tax, philanthropic, legal, health, or any other matter. It is not intended to be relied upon for making any decisions, financial or otherwise. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals who are familiar with your specific situation for individualized guidance. Any reliance on the information contained in this communication is solely at your own risk. The sender and OpenAI shall not be held responsible for any errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in the information provided or for any actions taken based on the content of this communication.

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