How can universities support male students' mental health?
The topic of men's mental health in universities must be addressed. Source: Fernando Dearferdo/Unsplash

While a student at university, it’s normal to try and envision the future world. But what happens when those thoughts are plagued with doubt and fear?

While studying for your exams, it’s normal to feel the weight of preparation and expectations. But what happens if that weight forever remains upon your shoulders?

While hanging out with fellow students, it’s normal to sometimes feel disconnected, for your focus to wander away from the conversation and fuzz up your mind.

But what if that’s happening all too often, and you’re struggling to balance reality with the conflict inside your head?

University affects men’s mental health as much as it does for women. Source: Lucas Sankey/Unsplash

Reoccurring trends

Stories of universal concern, student depression and suicide cases continue to emerge everyday.

Reflecting upon the Office for National Statistics study, Estimating suicide among higher education students, England and Wales: Experimental Statistics, male higher education students in the UK have a significantly higher rate of suicide compared to female students.

“We identified 1,330 students who died by suicide between the 12 months ending July 2001 and the 12 months ending July 2017 through linkage with the HESA data. Of these, 878 (66%) were males and 452 (34%) were females,” notes the report.

And in British Columbia (BC), Canada, it was recently reported that “Male students accounted for 13 of the 15 foreign-student suicides between 2013 and 2018. Six of the suicides in BC occurred in 2015. Most of the foreign students and exchange students who took their own lives were in their early twenties.

“The high rate of suicides by male foreign students lines up with national and international trends, which consistently show men are three or four times more likely than women to take their own lives.”

What can universities to alleviate men’s mental health?

Campus campaigns are a great way to spark conversations and comfort those who are experiencing emotional turmoil.

By raising awareness about student support centres on-site, learners will know where to go when they’re feeling pressured, doubtful or distracted from university life for personal reasons.

The outdated idea that women are ‘the weaker sex’ must be drained from societal expectations and buried away.

Spreading the message that it’s impossible for male students to be strong all the time, both mentally and physically, is crucial.

Mental health student ambassadors are another great advantage of campus communities, and male ambassadors who aren’t shy to speak about mental health triggers a domino effect of discussion.

Showing that everyone goes through hard times will help other male students speak up about their concerns and confide in someone while at university.

Little by little, universities have the power to normalise the subject and instil a safe, secure and trusted learning environment where everyone is free to express their innermost worries.

Naturally, every university’s approach to mental health awareness will vary. What works for some campus environments may not work for others.

But as long as they acknowledge and soon act upon it, treating everyone as equal, positive change is bound to take flight.

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