Suicide is the seventh leading cause of death for all Coloradans, with men aged 35 to 64, especially at risk. To address this public health crisis the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus has been contracted by the University of Maryland to evaluate the effectiveness of ManTherapy.org, the online suicide screening and prevention tool designed to decrease suicide rates among middle-aged men.

Rich Mahogany, a fictional doctor at ManTherapy.org, encourages men to seek help.
Rich Mahogany, a fictional doctor at ManTherapy.org, encourages men to seek help.

“ManTherapy.org is an innovative approach to addressing mental health issues for men — a hugely important issue in our state,” said Carol Runyan, MPH, PhD, professor and director of the Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research (PIPER) at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Although Colorado has a high suicide rate, we are very fortunate to have a state health department and legislature willing to help tackle the issue with multiple approaches, and through strong academic partnerships, they are eager to see what works and how best to allocate scarce financial resources.”

The evaluation is funded by a four-year, $1.28 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and will support a group of interdisciplinary researchers across the U.S., led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work. Researchers plan to enroll 200 men in the online programs and measure their suicide-related behaviors, suicidal ideation and depression, as well as men’s attitudes and behaviors around professional mental health services.

ManTherapy.org is a free online, confidential resource offering an interactive and humorous approach targeting men at risk for depression and suicide. A fictional online therapist, Dr. Rich Mahogany, cuts through the stigma of mental health with straight talk and practical advice. What began as a Colorado-specific effort launched by the CDPHE has quickly spread across the nation and around the globe. So far, more than 800,000 unique visitors have visited Mantherapy.org and 85,000 have completed the “18-Point Head Inspection” – a five-minute quiz allowing men to determine their mental health status and the best Man Therapy resources for them.

Last week on Veterans Day, the Man Therapy team launched more than 20 additional custom resources which apply specifically to military. Tips on dealing with topics specific to veterans such as disordered sleep, stress and difficult transitions, traumatic brain injury resources, and information for families to support the veterans in their lives.

The evaluation of Mantherapy.com is one of a series of collaboration projects between the PIPER Program and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE).

In addition to the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the lead investigators at the University of Maryland, additional research partners include: Cactus Denver, Florida State University, Screening for Mental Health, Inc.; Carson J Spencer Foundation; Mental Health America of Wisconsin; eResearch Technology Inc.; Henry Ford Health System, University of Rochester Medical Center; ProtoCall Services, Inc.; National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago; and American Association of Suicidology.