A group of male students shared their struggles with mental health in a panel discussion last week in recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week. Stomp out the Stigma was designed to highlight the need for mental health for men and offer a safe space for male students to share their experiences overcoming and living with mental health challenges.
“This particular type of open discussion about mental health is important to our students because it contributes significantly to the shift towards eradicating the stigma around mental health right on our campus,” said Bernard Duvivier, licensed associate professional counselor at CSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
The four students on the panel–Nathan Anderson, Terry Neal, Davison Parker and Christoff Nairn–spoke on a number of topics including obstacles people face that prevent them from talking about mental health, advice they would give to friends who are apprehensive about talking about mental health, how they’ve been impacted by misperceptions or microagressions and their personal journeys to better mental health.
“The students had an opportunity to see other students unashamedly and candidly discuss their mental health challenges. In this case these students happen to be male and mostly African American,” said Duvivier. “It was a triple strike against the stigma because it countered the beliefs that people, males in general, and African American males don’t or shouldn’t talk about mental health challenges and are ashamed of it.”
Duvivier added, “The participants’ courage stimulated a healthy question and answer segment that allowed others to open up about their issues and further combated the stigma. It is our hope and belief that this will encourage others to continue the discussion and make this type of conversation the new norm.”