The Barnes Center needs a counseling center for men

Nathan Fenningdorf | Editorial Editor

SU should have a counseling center dedicated to men.

Men are often scared of being belittled, laughed at or ridiculed for talking about their emotions. Syracuse University needs to provide male students the support they need to help destigmatize men’s mental health challenges.

Many men internalize their emotions instead of confronting them, and mental health is rarely discussed between men. The pervasiveness of “bro culture” and toxic masculinity makes it difficult for men to find outlets to talk about their feelings.

This cultural problem will not solve itself. To help men feel more comfortable discussing and coping with their mental health, SU should offer counseling services at the Barnes Center at The Arch specifically geared towards supporting men with the unique issues men face. 

Gender stereotypes and expectations are a large part of why fewer men seek mental health care. In accordance with many Western societal norms, men are supposed to be strong, and weakness isn’t often accepted by other men. 

A 2016 survey of people who have experienced mental health challenges found that 28% of men, compared to 19% of women, did not seek medical help, according to the Mental Health Foundation. 


Additionally, male suicide rates show the stark lack of support men receive in comparison to women. In a 2015 video for the University of Texas “Depression + Men,” psychologist Aaron Rochlen said that women are two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than men, yet men commit suicide at rates four to six times more often than women.

Research has shown that men express their emotions differently than women. Jim Livi, a National Alliance on Mental Illness Syracuse chapter board member, spoke on the challenges men face when confronting their mental health. 

“When a mental illness comes in, there’s a sense of ‘what’s happening to me?’” he said. “It’s hitting their identity as a person.”

Men can experience the stress and anxiety that come with mental health challenges, which can get in the way of their careers, Livi said. That problem snowballs, as they probably should take time off from work in order to care for their mental health, but they might not out of fear of losing their job.

“For men, their job is their identity,” Livi said. “There needs to be more discussion on how to handle mental health in the work environment.” 

This plays into why fewer men seek out support, he said, as the fear of losing your job because of your illness drives many men away from seeking help. 

The discussion with men about mental health should be started early in a man’s life. SU should be a driving force in leading this discussion. But first and foremost, men have to actually want to come out and get help.

“The admission [of mental health challenges] is the first step in getting the help,” Livi said. Men should start support groups and reach out to friends who may be struggling, he said.

The counseling provided by SU should aim to understand the culture and dangers of toxic masculinity many male students have experienced, and the university should use research that understands how men show their emotions in different ways. 

Above all, the university should give men a space where they can feel comfortable discussing their feelings. If this counseling is implemented, SU will have taken one step toward changing the culture on campus.

If SU does this for it’s male students, we can begin to negate the pervasive toxic masculinity in many men’s lives. SU needs to give men the resources they need to confront mental health challenges.

John Hepp is a freshman sports analytics major. His column appears biweekly. He can be reached at [email protected].


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