It’s time to change the conversation around mental health being too taboo of a subject for men to talk about. With resources like social network platform MentalHappy, it’s quite possible to reimagine what safe spaces look like for men to achieve a healthy mental state.

MentalHappy — a first-of-its-kind safe, online mental health platform that provides positive peer support groups led by health and wellness professionals — is actively working to support the mental health needs of all – particularly for people of color and men.

According to a poll conducted by researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), nearly one in ten American men reported experiencing some form of depression or anxiety, but less than half of those men actually sought out treatment for their conditions.

For Black men in this country those numbers are even lower, which is why mental health remains an under-recognized and under-treated problem among them.

“The most common misconception about mental health for men is that therapy is primarily something that women do,” MentalHappy CEO Tamar Blue tells AfroTech. “But what people don’t realize is that peer support therapy groups began over 80 years ago by two regular dudes who wanted to avoid drinking at a bar, and so they decided to regularly meet to talk about what they were going through. That group is now known as Alcoholics Anonymous.”

According to her, people often believe that men will only express their emotions through physical activities like sports, exercise, video games, working or sex. However, it’s been proven that participation from men who utilize her platform are a reflection of the changing times of people who are starting to become more open-minded.

Platforms like MentalHappy are striving to make mental health more accessible, affordable and stigma-free for everyone. By including men in this much-needed conversation around mental health, we can begin to shift the focus to create a more inclusive future that makes everyone feel welcome.

Most recently, Blue and MentalHappy announced an ambitious mission to invite 1,000 health and wellness professionals nationwide to join its movement and host groups on its platform. The vision behind this was to offer people another place to turn to when times get hard.

Moreover, the platform is also creating services and offering tools to help build up safe spaces online for men’s mental health needs.

“MentalHappy is creating safe spaces online for men through peer support groups that are led by male experts. When we started, the platform was roughly 80 percent women and 20 percent men. Over time, male engagement has essentially doubled to where it’s now about 60 percent female and 40 percent male,” Blue tells us. “And I think that’s because men have found a safe space within our platform. One of the features we’ve added are siloed male-only support groups led by male health and wellness experts.”

In an effort to honor the privacy of its users, MentalHappy also offers 100 percent anonymous groups to help provide truly sacred and safe spaces to heal.

“Seven out of ten male members on our platform wish to be in completely anonymous groups,” Blue shares, “and we really want to honor that and foster a space that men feel is tailored for them as well.”

Through self-guided health resources and various peer support groups, the platform is working overtime to ensure people are being given access to adequate and efficient resources – and that work starts with putting neglected groups like men first.

For more information about MentalHappy, visit its website.