USF experts say social stigma surrounding mental health affects some male students – The Oracle

According to the director of the Tampa Campus Counseling Center, Scott Strader, male students are less likely to seek services and therapy than women. Oracle image

Some male students may fall victim to societal stigma regarding mental health that leads them not to seek help, according to Scott Strader, director of the Campus Counseling Center in Tampa.

Although women are more likely to suffer from mental illness, men’s mental health and emotions are often suppressed and unclear, according to Associate Professor Thomas Miller. Miller said women are more honest about their struggles than men, who are more likely not to reveal information until it reaches a serious level.

Disorders such as depression and anxiety are more common in women and may affect them in different ways, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Depression may also present differently in men and women, according to Strader. For men, depression may look like substance abuse, economic concerns, or relationship concerns; Whereas for women, it may sound like problems with social relationships, grief, speech disorder, or relationships with their children.

“Depression looks different for men and women. Substance use looks different for men and women. Attention deficit disorder looks different for men and women,” Strader said.

According to Strader, there is a marked imbalance among those seeking treatment as well. Of the 100 clients in the counseling centre, he said, about 75% are women and 25% are men.

According to Strader, the stereotypical view of the treatment as a feminine treatment can also deter some men from seeking treatment. The therapy, Strader said, can be seen as more appropriate to how women from Western culture think and feel. Taking different approaches, such as support groups and mentoring programs, may show men that they can benefit from treatment.

Misconceptions about treatment and treatment may be the cause of the imbalance, according to Matthew Moss, chief engineering officer. People may think that therapists will tell them the wrong way to see the world or live their lives and that the experience is a waste of money, Moss said.

“That’s what they think confrontation is going to be like rather than more,” Moss said.

The stigma surrounding men and expressing emotions can also be a factor, according to Alfred Tinoco, a sophomore in accounting. He said there was an old, misogynistic notion that men should be “strong and unbothered”. That’s why, when men discuss mental health, it often becomes a cause for ridicule and shame, according to Tinoco.

Talking about mental health with others can also feel like a burden to some men, according to microfinance senior Jake O’Neill. Being raised in a family with traditional gender roles, O’Neal said he learned how to handle emotions on his own to avoid communicating stress to those around him. He said men could fear being seen as weak by doing so.

Behavior like this as toxic masculinity can also become a cycle in families that spans generations, according to emerging political science pioneer Edward Bailey. Until the cycle is broken, he said, the stigma surrounding mental health will persist and will have a negative impact on families such as cases of depression and suicide.

Although they are less likely to be diagnosed with a mental health disorder, twice as many men as women committed suicide in 2021, according to the CDC.

Social norm-setting campaigns at USF and on social media that explain to students the basics and warning signs of mental health disorders can also be helpful in creating awareness and conversation, according to Miller. He said campaigns like this normalizing mental health discussions will play a role in addressing this stigma.

According to Moss, education surrounding mental health should be implemented at younger ages. He said middle school students should be taught to understand mental health and talk about their experiences. According to Moss, this would provide them with a foundation to build on for their future.

“With kids, [they are] They will back down from whatever foundation they had. If it’s their organization, ‘I’m going to do a hard job,’ Moss said, ‘that’s what they’ll fall back on nine times out of ten.'”

According to O’Neill, a key aspect of breaking down stigma is the normalization of discussions about mental health. When he first struggled with mental health issues, O’Neill thought he was “strange” and “crazy” because he was never exposed to conversations that taught him about mental health.

He said that younger generations should be taught that struggling with mental health is not strange and is not something they should be ashamed of.

“I thought something was wrong. I didn’t get it. Once I realized it was normal, I wasn’t too afraid of it and afraid to talk about it,” O’Neal said.

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