Men’s mental health and self-harm is not a common discussion topic but one that was addressed all the same.
This was the message of the Center for Gender Equity during the discussion, “Societal Pressures: Men and Self Harm,” in the fireside lounge on April 9 at noon.
The five panelists expanded on cutting, mutilating of the body, suicide, binge drinking and athletic performance as ways men harm themselves in an attempt to live up to the societal pressures of masculinity.
Director and psychologist at the Student Counseling Center, Robin Keillor, shared that 14 percent to 38 percent of individuals from adolescent to college ages engage in self-harm behavior. That statistic then drops to four percent once people reach adulthood.
Gender and Sexuality Studies instructor Bharati Kasibhatla said that any display of feminism in men is met with torment and bullying. She explained that society needs to change how masculinity is presented to children and start from the ground, up.
Freshman Tyler Stewart said he started cutting in his adolescence and got heavily involved in athletics to prove his masculinity.
“Even within the self harm spectrum, certain ways of harming yourself are considered more masculine,” said Stewart.
Junior Chris Reimer said the three main societal rituals men are expected to go through are driving for the first time, the 18th birthday, and the 21st birthday.
“Binge drinking versus cutting, for example,” Reimer said.
Kasibhatla said that missing any of these rights of passage into mainstream masculinity could lead to an unhealthy extended adolescence.
Sophomore Tess McShane said the attitude toward men who self-harm needs to change. She said until the media changes the way it presents masculinity people need to be aware of the unrealistic expectations.
The only way to change the mainstream presentation of masculinity, according to Kasbhatla, is through widespread social justice movements.
Reimer said anyone who is struggling with self harm issues is encouraged to come to the Student Counseling Center. The first 15 appointments are free.