Men deserve stronger support systems for their mental health

With November being Men’s Health Awareness Month, people should start paying more attention to the state of mental being among our male friends, family and classmates. This past summer, Fortune magazine’s wellness section published an article in which they concluded that “60% of college kids are living with mental health disorders, and schools are woefully unprepared.”

Within their data, they not only found that college students have more mental issues than adults, but that there is a scary drop in statistics regarding women versus men admitting that they are dealing with a diagnosis or seeking help: “67% compared with 51%.”

When asking junior English major Thomas Kuhn how many men on college campuses he believed suffered mental health issues, he answered, “probably… at least 30%,” and when it was revealed that it was 51%, he was shocked.

Kuhn said that more mental health resources should definitely be targeted towards men. The sad truth, however, is that college campuses don’t do a lot in regards to assuring that their students have someone to reach out to.

According to Fortune, “there is no real national database where parents and their college-age children can search to find the best college wellness center,” and of “those who have received counseling, about 30% have used services provided by their college or university.”

Thankfully, here at Ramapo, we have a whole webpage dedicated to our counseling services with several links, resources and types of therapy. There are 11 staff members and four trainees listed on the staff page, and viewers can click on any of their names to research further into their education, experience and personal interests.

I have seen the counseling services at several Ramapo events advertising their services in fun ways to those who stop by the booth. This, I believe, is a great way to reach all genders that might need their assistance.

Not every campus is as lucky as ours, though. A lot of counseling services on other campuses are drastically understaffed and underfunded thanks to the pandemic, which is increasingly tough considering that a lot of students are suffering from mental illness because of the pandemic. Again, a lot of men will not reach out because services are not targeted towards them.

It has become a terrible stigma in society that only women suffer from mental health issues, and that if a man is upset, he must toughen up. We can credit this to many things, including social media, television and advertisements. Men might see reaching out for help as a sign of weakness, as without seeing representation in the media, they could believe that they are not welcome to speak to a therapist or even to a friend about how they feel.

Most do not even know that November is Men’s Health Awareness Month, and I honestly probably would not either if Movember was not popular. Movember, an annual event that encourages men to grow facial hair to raise awareness for men’s health issues, has grown increasingly popular within the past few years. Something like this is a fantastic way to get people talking about men’s health, and I think we need more like this.

Seeing statistics, reading articles and facial hair growth, however, is not enough. We must do better in targeting services towards men, and keep the conversation going throughout the entire year, not just November. Continue to check in on the men in your life, remind them that mental illness is something that everyone can go through and that it’s okay to reach out.

Photo courtesy of Nathan Cowley, Pexels.