Men-Only Breakout Session

The Problem

In Scleroderma, the majority of patients are women, so it looks like there is less attention to men in daily functioning.

Generally, thereĀ is an agreement that men and women are different, and that can generate the question, “Does anxiety/depression manifest itself in men as often as women with scleroderma?”

When it comes to the occurrence of these feelings, there is generally no difference between men and women. However, there may be a difference in the way they express them and cope with them.

Influenced by education and other social and cultural factors, it seems that women are still more ‘at ease’, than men, to express emotions that indicate “vulnerability”. Although differences in this respect may have become smaller in the past decades, they still persist. Scientific literature does not giveĀ  a clear answer to this question. Only a couple of studies focusing on depression/anxiety in people with scleroderma exist. In one of them, women reported more depression, but in another, there were no sex differences for depression, only anxiety was reported as more present in women.

Why Attend

A men’s only group encourages male patients to speak about different scleroderma-related issues happening in their lives. It can be easier to talk about daily life matters in a group that experiences the same difficulties, frustrations and worries. Being in a group of same sex participants, could give a safer feeling of understanding and support as well as it could enhance participation and openness.

This approach was used on Saturday, September 19th, during the 2015 Hamilton Conference, where a small group of men joined to share their stories, daily difficulties and solutions they sometimes found to work for them.

We were guided by Ghassan El-Baalbaki, psychologist and enjoyed his positive way of encouraging us to speak freely.

Topics we discussed were very diverse and it helped us see things differently.

A men’s only session will take place again during this year’s conference, and I hope to see a large group of participants willing to share experiences so we (‘men’) can all learn from these experiences and allow all participants to benefit from them. Finally, from my experience and from the feedback I got from other participants, sharing in a men’s only session helped us feel supported, understood and not alone.

We will be waiting for you this year,

Ghassan El-Baalbaki

Dr. El-Baalbaki

Dr. El-Baalbaki

Dr. El-Baalbaki is an Assistant Professor of psychology at UQAM and an adjunct professor at McGill University in psycho-oncology. He was a post-doctorate fellow in Psychiatry at McGill University and the Behavioural Health Research Group (2009-2010) where his work focused mainly on studying the correlates of pruritus with quality of life in scleroderma patients and on the measure of pain in Systemic Sclerosis. He is currently running research projects to study on the one hand the correlates of personality traits, quality of life and marital dynamics in patients suffering from either scleroderma, cancer, or anxiety disorders, and on the other hand to study the use of hypnosis in the management of procedural pain in medical settings and in chronic pain.