Behind the Mask: Depression in Adolescent Males

Evidence shows depression is soaring among adolescent males. However, these young men frequently go undiagnosed and untreated, often because they don’t exhibit standard diagnostic criteria. Instead – after a lifetime being told boys don’t cry – they’re angry, oppositional, self-destructive, or simply numb. They hide behind these masks, pushing away the world and hoping nobody notices they’re actually sad, lonely, vulnerable boys.

In this workshop, we’ll develop the knowledge and skills to look behind those masks – in order to address the roots of this covert depression, the impact of the Guy Code, and the Stuckness that results when biological predispositions and environmental stressors collide. Since this Stuckness often includes Big Questions related to death, meaninglessness, and isolation, we’ll consider practical strategies for exploring existential themes with depressed adolescent males.

Often, these masks are attempts to avoid feelings, connections, and life. With that in mind, we’ll identify practical strategies for building therapeutic alliance by improving trustworthiness, nurturing connectedness, and developing therapeutic presence. Throughout the day, we’ll also consider a variety of field-tested strategies to help adolescent males get unstuck, start moving forward, and leave their masks behind.

Workshop attendees can expect to:

  • Review current research regarding depression in adolescent males.
  • Examine practical strategies for building therapeutic alliance by improving trustworthiness, nurturing connectedness, and developing therapeutic presence.
  • Identify relevant ideas from attachment theory and existential psychotherapy.
  • Explore a variety of field-tested strategies for addressing learned helplessness, low self-worth, and pessimistic thinking
Presenter: David Flack

David Flack is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP), with additional credentials as a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Child Mental Health Specialist and Sexual Minority Mental Health Specialist. He holds a Post-Master’s Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care and Counseling and has credentials or advanced training in several evidence-based programs. For twenty years, David has worked with teens and families impacted by substance use, trauma, and mental health challenges – as a therapist, substance abuse counselor, experiential educator, and clinical supervisor. In private practice since 2017, he meets with teens and emerging adults addressing depression, trauma, and co-occurring disorders. Prior to entering private practice, he spent 15 years in community mental health agencies, primarily as an adolescent co-occurring disorders therapist. In addition to his clinical work, David regularly provides well-received continuing education programs both regionally and nationally. He has also presented for non-profit agencies, county-sponsored events, and over 100 times at international, national, and regional conferences — including multiple presentations at conferences of the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counseling Association, and Association of Experiential Education.