Men and Mental Health
Graduation year: 2018
Team played for: Tennis
Tell Us Your Story
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do- mental health issues can affect anyone. Chances are it has affected you in one way or another.
Personally, it really hit me in middle school. Getting bullied is never a good time. Day after day I’d go into school wondering how today was going to go and who was going to say something. It’s truly painful and defeating to deal with for a few days, but after more than a year of it? Let me tell you, my mind wasn’t in a very good place. I was lucky to have a few friends that understood that pain, and we quickly saw that we’re never in it alone. I was also fortunate to play and enjoy tennis every day. I could just go out and play and let the weight of my teen world slip away. Having those outlets of friends and tennis made everything seem a lot more tolerable.
What I really want to talk about, though, is the subject of men and mental health. This whole deal of not speaking up gets dramatically worse with men, and I want to be a part of the change in that. The stigma that guys “don’t talk about feelings with each other” significantly affects the way men approach mental health in our society. That stems from what everyone was told growing up, “emotions are a sign of weakness.” We still hear this today as adults, too. The effect continues to snowball, because as less people show emotion, less people talk about it. As less people talk about it, the weirder it becomes for someone to bring it up, and so the cycle repeats.
I realized this stigma with guys for the first time when Heart to Heart met for the first few times. Devan, the founder, had emailed each sports team looking for ambassadors to join and help progress the initiative. All of our meetings, in the beginning, consisted of around fifteen girls and then me. That’s when I started realizing just how strong this stigma’s grip was on men. I originally joined because I strongly agree with the message we’re trying to send to everyone. My goal is for this movement to have more male involvement, so maybe one day we can reverse the conversation and show people that it’s okay to have those emotions, those feelings, and to share them openly and honestly. Hopefully this can begin to combat the years where we’ve been told to push feelings to the side or bottle them up. I hope that my participation in Heart to Heart; will inspire and motivate other men to feel more able to speak up and potentially even join the cause.
All in all, this message goes out to everyone- it’s okay to say you’re not okay. I firmly believe that the strongest people are the ones that speak up if something’s not right. Those who are willing to share their stories of their weakest times can help inspire others. We can all have a part in helping #SHUtdownthestigma
Class of 2018