Trigger warning: Suicide
We have all heard of Movember. The charity’s work is effective and unmissable thanks to the many unique additions to men’s upper lips during the month of November. The moustaches may range from the spectacular to the embarrassing but are all in the name of raising awareness for, among other things, Men’s Mental Health. However, the charity themselves would be adamant in stressing that this is not a month-long issue, but rather something that needs to be talked about and tackled every day of the year.
StudentMinds.com suggest that mental health can be a particular challenge to men as “help-seeking can be difficult due to stigma and societal expectations” so we decided to interview three students at our Penryn Campus to see why they thought this was the case and how they saw the issues surrounding Men’s Mental Health at University. Politics and International Relations Student Lucas Clark said that “in third year, I feel like I don’t have time to have a mental health problem” which highlights one of the key takeaways from our discussion: that having a mental health problem was and is seen as an inconvenience or distraction from the routine of student life.
When asked the question about how they might help a friend who was having a mental health problem, all three guys stressed that they would be willing to talk to them about it and would ‘gently’ point them towards the support services that are available. This is obviously great but may not be reflective of how everyone feels. Of the six steps that Movember list in their ‘action plan’ to tackle the issues facing men, they list ‘Conversations that Matter’ and ‘Services that work for Men’ as two and three respectively. These are the two that are most relevant to students as feeling comfortable talking to your social group and the professionals on campus are essential for anyone who may be struggling. The proof that something as simple as having a conversation can make a huge difference is evident through our own attempt at organising a discussion.
We got three guys in a room and asked them very indirect questions about mental health and they were immediately able to be honest and supportive of each other. Take away the camera and it is a conversation that you could have with any of your friends at any time. Make sure you don’t just save those for November.
Mark Sawyer, Head of Wellbeing and Welfare at the University of Exeter said: “Talking about your worries and concerns is really important and turning to trusted family and friends can really help. However, if you don’t feel there is anyone you can talk to there are lots of organisations out there to help and a range of ways to access that help – from talking to someone over the phone, or using online tools such as Silvercloud. We list a range of options on our web pages. The most important thing to remember is that support is there and we encourage you to reach out.”
If you are struggling with a mental health issue and require support or simply want to find out more about the help available, please reach out.
Phone: 01392 724381
Phone: 01326 370460
Nightline (Exeter campuses)
Nightline is a confidential listening and information service run by students for students. Available 8pm to 8am during term time, Nightline is there to listen to anything you’d like to talk about.
Phone: 01392 724000
Whatever you’re going through you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Phone: 116 123