By Kennedy Ferrugia
The Theta Epsilon Chapter of the Sigma Lambda International Fraternity hosted an event to discuss men’s mental health on Oct. 23.
At the event, students discussed the reason behind the “deadly silence” in which men feel they have to keep in today’s society.
The room was dominated by a male presence, as Jeury Dipre, a member of Sigma Lambda and junior communication studies major, led the conversation.
The silence lingered in the room after Dipre asked the first question — “How are men perceived in society?”
The silence was followed by one-phrase answers of “strong,” “no emotions” and “bread-winner.”
Dipre continued by asking — “What does mental health mean to you?”
The men in the room answered that being well and in tune with one’s emotions is the definition of mental health.
“Masculinity in the traditional sense means that you need to hold everything as close as possible because with weakness comes judgement and with judgment comes losing your man card … seeking help is the most manly thing you can do,” said clinical psychologist and guest speaker Zac Seidler.
His statement provoked a positive response to the men in the room. Students began asking questions such as, “How does a man lose something that isn’t even there?” and “What’s the fear of asking for help?”
The men in the room positively led and dominated the conversation. The females shared minimal input due to the fact that the men had the chance to share personal experiences and inner thoughts toward the social stigma and toxic masculinity challenged within their lives.
In order to keep the discussion interactive, Dipre asked for volunteers to read definitions from the presentation, which were made to gain insight on terms that create barriers between men and mental health.
“Social stigma” was described and presented on the screen as “prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychotic label they have been given.”
Dipre said that oftentimes — especially through the media — people do not see mental health issues, especially involving men, as a real thing; and when they do, people use the wrong terms, which causes men to be significantly unlikely to use mental health services in comparison to women. Men who are black, Latino and Asian have much lower utilization rates than white men and women in general.
Dipre presented a video from NFL LifeLine called “To My Brothers,” which showed an NFL football player, Michael Irvin, give an inspirational testimony of toxic masculinity and mental health. Irvin describes the issue as “Being locked away in isolation.They cut off our ability to communicate with others and it runs them crazy.”
The response to the video allowed the men to see and talk about a public figure, who plays what is considered a “manly” sport, speak about the acceptance and importance of asking for help and showing emotions.
“Coming from a Hispanic household, I saw how mental health was really not something that was talked about, and I wanted to bring awareness to that,” Dipre said.
After joining CAPS as a peer educator, Dipre gained more knowledge of mental health and found a lack of awareness in men’s mental health at the College.
“We rarely talk about men’s mental health,” he said. “It’s more of downplaying symptoms because social norms play a big role in men being open about their feelings. It is crucial that we make a safe environment for men within our organizations,” he said.
He closed the event by speaking of an analogy of a glass of water.
“We’re in college, academics are a big thing, social pressures are a big thing, if you keep putting water into the glass, the last drop will cause the water to overflow,” he said. “You need to make sure that you are slowly letting all the stress and pressure out because it definitely helps a lot to talk to someone.”