The Florida State Mental Health Council (MHC) hosted an event last week on the intramural campus dedicated to men’s mental health.
Held last Thursday, November 9, the event was open to both men and women, but was mostly attended by men. The evening included a short talk by RENEW (Realizing Everyone’s Need for Emotional Wellness), a peer education and support service offered by FSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
RENEW shared stories gleaned from interviews with men that highlighted their common mental health issues.
Most reports are of men who ignore mental health throughout their lives and have no support from others to address it, only for their psychological isolation to create personal and interpersonal problems later in life.
RESTORE common statistics to highlight the harm of a lack of awareness of men’s mental health and provide resources to students who need help. Afterwards, the students broke into small groups to share their experiences and reflect on their mental health with others. Attendees then participated in competitions including water tennis and spike ball tournaments.
When asked how they view mental health, students highlighted the connection between physical and emotional health, as well as fears about what others think.
“To me, men’s mental health means the same thing as being aware of a person’s emotional, spiritual and physical well-being,” said Christian Victoria, a business management and computer science student.
“Happy mind, happy body, happy life,” said Troy Novak, freshman biology major. “That’s it.”
“I think it’s extremely important for men to feel comfortable and safe, especially when they’re talking about things they’re struggling with,” said Michael Lennon, a junior and finance major. “On the male side, it’s looked down upon a bit.”
Data shared by RENEW illustrated this point with statistics showing that men with mental health issues are less likely to seek help and receive treatment, a fact that many of the students in attendance attributed to harmful social norms.
“There is a stigma for men where they stereotypically have to be the breadwinners of society and their families,” said Victoria. “It accumulates and over time … it can have destructive consequences.”
Victoria and others shared the steps they take to maintain their own mental health, including exercise, meditation and reading. Participants also shared the importance of interpersonal relationships to support mental health, especially those with family and other men.
FSU’s MHC is a chapter of the Student Government Association that works on mental health advocacy and education. While the body’s general meetings are attended by some men, the council’s executive committee is made up entirely of women, a trend that Ashely Boudreaux, director of the MHC, attributes to the same stigma men face when dealing with their mental health.
“We just haven’t had many men apply,” Boudreaux said. “(It shows) that men don’t talk about mental health often enough.”
Organizers say the event was successful in addressing men’s mental health and providing a space for conversations about it.
“Having more events like this more often and making it public (would still help),” said Tommy Cherry, a freshman who discovered the event through social media. “It’s nice to get everyone together and connect.”
Boudreaux affirmed MHC’s commitment to advocating for increased university funding for the psychological counseling center in the future.
MHC scheduled the event for November because it is Men’s Mental Health Month. The event was organized by MHC with the support of RENEW, as well as local business partners and restaurants Little Masa, DP Dough and Bowden’s.
FSU students who need psychological help should contact the University Counseling and Psychological Services. A 24/7 mental health hotline is also available at 850-644-8255.