On March 2, the Gender Studies Club hosted the Masculinity and Mental Health panel discussion. Conversation was based around many factors that might impede boys and men from getting the resources they may need when they are experiencing mental health issues.
Mental health is stigmatized in our society which causes men to seem weak when they express their struggles with stress and mental health. Studies show that women outlive men by 10 years from a life expectancy standpoint due to this, in addition to components such as racism, racial discrimination, microaggressions and racial battle fatigue. White men are also outliving African American men by an average of five years.
The panel consisted of Brandon Wiley, a licensed professional counselor out of Erie, and Quincy Stephenson, the outreach assistant director and coordinator for the counseling and wellbeing center at Duquesne University.
Stevenson spoke on the stigmatism men feel when they are stressed or struggling mentally.
“There has not been a norm set in reference to me being open with my emotions and being open to being vulnerable,” said Stevenson.
Stevenson went on to state the three focus points that men tend to focus their stress on: finances, relationships and state of living.
Wiley brought attention to the constant opportunity for conversation and opportunity to learn something. This starts with self-evaluation and change within ourselves before we make a change in society.
“It is important now more than ever to continue to push the envelope,” said Stevenson. “It is important now for us to continue to push our courageous conversations towards courageous policy change and culture change.”
Those who seek help from a counselor or therapist may come across an issue that the therapist does not fit well with you. This can become a barrier for men and boys who are seeking to get help. Wiley expressed the importance of taking care of all aspects of ourselves mentally, physically and emotionally.
“The number one reason people stop pursuing counseling is because they are not finding someone they are meshing with,” said Wiley. “They kind of give up after one or two tries. Just as invested as we are in our physical health when we go to see a doctor and get a physical, the same thing goes with mental capacity.”
It takes everyone to make a change and a collective voice to shift power to create that change. Active listening is an essential piece which can help find that commonality and make a positive change. Listening to one another can help make a change around the norms of masculinity.
Emily Keener of the Psychology Department, who studies gender roles, masculinity and femininity, spoke on how peers can take the next step to changing the stigmatism of masculinity.
“We have to let our peers violate the gender norms. We have to not just let them but praise them for that. Peers are so powerful,” said Keener. “Your peers care.”
For students who are looking to get involved with the Gender Studies Club can join on CORE or through the club’s social media accounts including Instagram (@srugndrstudies), Facebook (@genderstudiesSRU), and Twitter (@SRUgndrstudies). Gender Studies Club meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month from 7:30-8:30 p.m.