• Julia Pizzuto

5 College Guys Talk About Mental Health

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men died by suicide 3.56x more than women as of 2018. There’s a lot of talk about the need to talk about men’s mental health, but not a lot of actually talking about it. That needs to change.

So I asked five regular college guys to open up and get real about mental health.

Chris, 18 years old, college freshmen

It is more difficult for men to open up about mental health because showing emotion does not appear to be manly. Men may feel embarrassed because they don’t like to admit when they are not in control.

What do you wish someone had told you earlier?

I wish someone told me that it is okay to not always be okay, and I don’t always need to be in control of my emotions. Opening up about the way I feel does not make me seem feminine.


What's most difficult to talk about?

I find it most difficult to open up when I am feeling scared. As a man, it's expected that we never shy away from anything.


Have you ever been affected by the stigma, and if so, how? Has it changed how you ask for help?

I have a very open relationship with my family and friends and I feel comfortable speaking up about the way I feel if need be. This is such a blessing as I’ve never had trouble talking about the way I feel.


Mental health role model:

My hockey coach has encouraged me to speak up about mental health and help others who I notice may be struggling.


If you knew a struggling friend would read this, what would you want them to know?

I would want my friend to know that I will always be here for them whenever they may need to talk. I never want them to feel like they are alone in this world. They are so important and it is totally normal to not feel 100% sometimes.

Anthony, 19 years old, college sophomore

I feel that with gender stereotypes, it is a lot harder for men to open up since they have to be perceived as strong and like nothing bothers them.


What do you wish someone had told you earlier?

It's okay not to be okay.


What do you find most difficult to talk about?

I feel talking about suicide and the topics associated with it is the most difficult topic for me.


Have you ever been affected by the stigma, and if so, how? Has it changed how you ask for help?

I have been very accepted by all of the people who I can talk to about my feelings and mental health. I feel that I stick to talking about it with friends that also share similar feelings


Mental health role model:

One of my friends/teammates encourages me to speak out about it since we are both feeling the same with the loss of one of our teammates, so the fact that we have common feelings makes it easier for me to speak out.


If you knew a struggling friend would read this, what would you want them to know?

I would rather listen to how you feel and attempt to help than to attend your funeral. I’d be there for them through everything.

Kham, 20 years old, college junior

It is not necessarily harder for men to open up about mental health, but in today’s society, it’s almost like men shouldn’t open up about it. We are expected to "toughen up." That idea is so ingrained in our lives that we just think it's the way we're supposed to be.


What do you wish someone had told you earlier?

That it is okay to be sad and down sometimes. And that it is okay to show your emotions. It is a natural human thing, so why should we have to hide it?


What do you find most difficult to talk about?

Relationships and having girl problems. Sometimes you feel lonely and like the world does not love you or want you to be around. A simple companion is sometimes all a guy needs to feel like he is worth it and appreciated, but today that is very hard to find.


Have you ever been affected by the stigma, and if so how? Has that changed how you’ve asked for help in the future?

Definitely. I kept a lot of my emotions hidden from people for a long time because I did not want to be made fun of or called ‘soft’. It made me not want help, but after seeing how it was affecting my mood daily, I started to actively seek out people to talk to. Trust is something that I learned from it, and how to find people that you trust because those are the ones you can confide in.


If you knew a struggling friend would read this, what would you want them to know?

Find someone that you trust and just let it all out. Holding it in will only make things harder and more difficult. You live in this world with so many people that there is no way you’re the only one going through your problems.


Mental health role model:

One of my best friends, she used to go to my university. Because she dealt with mental health issues for so long, and still battles with them, she is a role model for me.

Fern, 22 years old, college senior

I feel that over time there has been this notion that men are “big and tough” and this is simply due to the culture of our past...yet I do think that over time this has started to change for the better. There shouldn’t be any reason why it’s more difficult for men to open up about mental health. We need to normalize this.


What do you wish someone had told you earlier?

“Shits real,” and “You truly will never know what’s actually going on in someone’s head.” When hopefully you leave that dark place in your mind, only then will you realize, like, whoa that was really bad. But when it comes down to it, if you’re really in a bad place but good at hiding it, some people would never know.


What do you find most difficult to talk about?

I just don’t really trust people. Out of everyone you know and out of all the people you call friends, I would have that a very small portion of them truly care about you. That being said I only talk about real things; that being family things, relationship stuff, and emotions with certain people.


Have you ever been affected by the stigma, and if so how? Has that changed how you’ve asked for help in the future?

I don’t think so. I’m a pretty straight up person, like 9/10 times you will know how I feel about you or someone else. I don’t hold that stuff in, I just let it go. There is no point to being fake. You have to be real with yourself. And if you’re truly honest with yourself you’ll know when you need help.


If you knew a struggling friend would read this, what would you want them to know?

Everyone goes through this, and never forget you are never alone, there will always be someone in your corner. Getting through the toughest days is what’s going to make you stronger in the end. It might be a long way down but you will get there, in your own time and in your own way.

Anderson, 21 years old, recent grad

I think it is a lot more difficult for men to open up about mental health because of antiquated societal standards. A man is not supposed to reach out for help or even demonstrate certain emotions. Although we are living in the year 2020, people are still trapped in these old stigmas.

What do you wish someone had told you earlier?

I wish growing up someone would have normalized talking about mental health issues. Growing up, talking about your mental health made them seem unstable or unnatural.

What do you find most difficult to talk about?

Sexuality–As a bisexual male, I feel like someone in the LGBTQ+ community always has to do a “coming out” and worry about being accepted or not.


Have you ever been affected by the stigma, and if so how? Has that changed how you’ve asked for help in the future?

Yes, growing up my father would constantly remind me, “men do not cry.” It did kind of shape me growing up since I was naïve and thought that I had to follow that advice. Nowadays, if I feel like crying, I will.

Mental health role model:

Shawn Mendes has spoken about anxiety several times especially after he started to get mainstream famous. Billie Eilish, who I adore, has spoken out about her own mental health before releasing her recent album.

If you knew a struggling friend would read this, what would you want them to know?

I would want them to know that I am here to support them in any way possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I would kind of help them see the good in any possible situation.

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