Men's Talk About Anxiety Online: Constructing an Authentically Anxious Identity Allows Help-Seeking

Phoebe G. Drioli-Phillips, Melissa Oxlad, Amanda LeCouteur, Rebecca Feo, Brett Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Although anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental health disorder among Australian men, very little is known about men’s experiences of living with, and seeking help for, anxiety. This article examines how male users of an online discussion forum for “anxiety” describe their anxiety in their opening posts. Of particular interest is how such descriptions attend to issues of authenticity and the types of support that men appear to be seeking online. Data were taken from one Australian online anxiety discussion forum over a 2-year period and were analyzed using thematic analysis, informed by principles of discursive psychology. The analysis demonstrates that authenticity of posters’ anxiety is attended to in four main ways: (a) orienting to a diagnosis, (b) detailing the severity of their anxiety, (c) emphasizing the longevity of their anxiety, and (d) constructing themselves as trouble resistant. The findings suggest that the forum partially functions as a site for authentically anxious identities to be tested by forum users. A fifth theme relates to how those identities appeared to serve a particular function in terms of men’s support-seeking behaviors on the forum. This article has clear practical implications for better understanding men’s experiences of anxiety and their anxiety-related help-seeking preferences. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) Public Significance Statement—Despite a high prevalence of anxiety disorders among Australian men’s, men’s experiences of anxiety are underresearched and poorly understood. This qualitative study investigates the issues that men themselves make relevant when seeking support for their anxiety from an online discussion forum. Findings provide insight into the significance of authenticity in seeking support as well as the type of support men appear to be seeking. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-87
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology of Men and Masculinity
Issue number1
Early online date20 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anxiety, men
  • Online discussion forums
  • Qualitative
  • Support


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