Globally, male suicide rates are over three times that of females. Men abuse substances and partake in other unhealthy coping mechanisms to a far greater extent than their female counterparts. In the US, an estimated nine percent of male adults suffer from depression. The question is: why is mental health among men so poor?
This question is especially important for a Christian institution like Gordon College. According to the Tartan, in 2021, the Gordon counseling center saw 30% of enrolled students request their services — twice that of the national average. Men, no doubt, are part of this statistic.
Deven Kindl, a junior Christian Ministry major at Gordon College, believes that many men on campus are struggling with mental health because of pressure from expectations.
“A lot of guys I have talked to think that they are expected to shoulder their burdens alone, and I do my best to help them through their struggles, but sometimes more than a simple conversation is needed,” says Kindl.
While there are resources available to help those struggling mentally, mental health problems among men persist.
Stigma and Support
Kindl can trace his struggle with mental health back to his childhood. From an early age, he was told to be a “man.”
“Not talking about mental health, carrying your burdens,” said Kindl. “Those were the kinds of things that have been all but commonplace as I have grown up, and I am sure a lot of other guys can relate.”
Trying to shoulder burdens alone can lead to loneliness and isolation. For many men, reluctance to speak about mental health because of the stigma surrounding it has resulted in untreated mental illness.
“There is a push in Christian society for the man to be the rock of the household, bearing the burdens of his family and himself as well, but there needs to be support for the man of the house too,” Kindl said. Not having a stronger support system to provide a mental health buffer between struggles and unhealthy coping mechanisms is an urgent need for many men, but too many men say their support system is insufficient.
Acceptance and Healing
Jacob Blake, a sophomore Resident Advisor, has seen firsthand how male students have been affected by poor mental health and believes awareness is critical for the livelihood of men on campus.
“We tend to put up a facade, say everything’s okay, and move on with our day, but the truth of the matter is we aren’t okay, and dialogue really needs to happen to make a positive change,” said Blake.
Blake is convinced that joining a local church is a good first step toward healthier mental well-being.
“Mental health and faith go hand in hand,” he said, “I would encourage those who are struggling to join a church, or if you’re already in one, a small group within the church.”
Pursuing healthy courses of action to better one’s mental health does not have to be done alone. There is nothing wrong about opening up and asking for help, Blake is convinced.
“I can almost guarantee you that they will have similar experiences as you, ultimately fostering spiritual and mental growth.”
A Practical Way of Raising Awareness
When asked about how the college could better raise awareness of men’s mental health in a practical way, Kindl had one answer: more opportunities for open dialogue.
Kindl has seen public accounts on social media that occasionally talk about mental health on campus but would like to see a more deliberate initiative being made, not just from students—but from the school as a whole.
“Counseling is great, but there need to be other avenues for dialogue on mental health that aren’t in such an intimate setting. Open conversation for students to connect with other students through their struggles could be a great opportunity to raise awareness,” he said.
Kindl believes that though raising awareness is important, encouraging words can be just as beneficial for those struggling with their mental health.
“I just want to say to anyone reading this, there are people who love you and are here for you,” he says. “Never think you are alone because you’re not, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Categories: Student Life