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Our First Year in Review

This blog is a little different. It’s been a year—almost to the day—that MensPsych welcomed its first few clients. So, what’s it been like running Adelaide’s first Psychology Clinic entirely dedicated to adolescent and adult men?

Well, it has been both rewarding and difficult. As the director and senior Clinical Psychologist, I reflect on the more than 100 men who have contacted us in an effort to address their mental health. Hundreds of hours have been invested in sessions with adolescent and adult men who are struggling, in crisis, or simply looking to take preventive steps towards maintaining their mental health. I have cried with clients in the therapy room, laughed uncontrollably out loud, played jenga, battleship and checkers, or physically interacted with various objects to explore sensory needs and to experientially illustrate an idea that we’ve discussed.

Reward also comes when I see clients making gains. Men who were previously struggling to get out of bed are now engaging with family, friends, and getting back into activities they used to love. Men, who were once so stuck in grief that it seemed impossible to feel any different, now hold their experience of grief as something they value. This grief can become a difficult but welcome reminder of something that’s been lost. Other clients who have bounced around the mental health system for years have found some clarity around their lived experience. Often, it’s been the case that Autism, ADHD, or some other form of neurodivergence has been repeatedly missed by professionals they have seen before, and these individuals had lived with a sense of brokenness for a long time.

At the same time, this year of running the clinic has been incredibly difficult. Balancing administration, clinical work, a second job and a personal life is always hard. What’s more heart breaking is being short of capacity and not being able to see every male who has contacted us for support. This last point is an indicator of a much bigger issue. Despite trying on multiple occasions to bring extra clinical staff on board, efforts have mostly proved unsuccessful. It’s clear that there is a work-force shortage whereby demand outstrips the number of available mental health clinicians.

A bigger challenge is the lack of clinicians who seem to want to work exclusively with males. This latter point baffles me. Men have the highest rate of completed suicide. Moreover, men who are struggling with their mental health are at increased risk of substance abuse, homelessness, relationship and employment difficulties, and violent offending. With a shortage of clinics—such as MensPsych—dedicated to working with men, and a shortage of mental health clinicians, a lot of men have nowhere to go. We all need to do better. We need to advocate for a bottom-up approach to fixing a broken mental health system.

As we move into our second year of operation, there are some rainbows on the horizon. An administrative assistant will be coming on board to provide some support behind-the-scenes. We also have a second clinician coming on board! Will Vuong (pictured right) is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker. He is passionate about the psychological health and wellbeing of men and has worked in private practice, EAP services, not-for-profit and government agencies. Some of Will's specialties include treating stress and anger management, interpersonal and relationship conflict, loss and grief, and childhood trauma. We will have increased capacity once Will commences in July 2021 which means one thing: WE GET TO HELP MORE ADOLESCENT AND ADULT MEN WITH THEIR MENTAL HEALTH!

Stay tune for more blogs in the future. It’s difficult finding time to put them together. But it’s something that I think is important.

If you have any ideas on what we should blog about, please send us an email

Stay safe

Dr Ian Zajac

MensPsych is not a crisis support service. Appropriate services can be reached 24 hours a day:Lifeline13 11 14;Suicide Call Back Service1300 659 467;Kids Helpline1800 55 1800;MensLine Australia1300 78 99 78;Beyond Blue1300 22 4636

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