#MenForMentalHealth is a campaign the Active Minds Western chapter produces every November to shed light on and open discussion about men and mental health. Each day of the month, one man’s experience dealing with the silence and stigma that surrounds mental health is shared on the chapter’s social media platforms. To learn more about the backstory of this campaign, read what the Active Minds Western chapter shared with us:
As #MenForMentalHealth is a campaign your chapter does every November, how did you approach this year’s campaign?
We receive a lot of attention with the campaign, especially last year, so we really wanted to keep that momentum going. We know that this campaign is a huge part of Active Minds Western, and it is what most people know us for, so it’s a lot of pressure to make sure that we can deliver an even more successful campaign than the previous year.
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“When asked to talk about men’s mental health, I didn’t know how to begin or what to say. This could be due to coming from a small town where we just don’t bring it up and that boys are ‘tough’ and are taught to conceal their feelings… Since I graduated high school in June of 2015, I have had three friends (all male) pass away from suicide… I don’t know what it is about my hometown and surrounding area, but the number of severe mental health cases is high, and something needs to change… In small towns, everyone knows your business and therefore would know that you are unwell. I know that there have been significant improvements to how mental health is treated and viewed, but we still need to do more to help others and prevent more tragedies.“ – Andrew Elliott #MenForMentalHealth
Who collaborated to come up with the vision for the campaign?
We wanted to change the look of this year’s campaign to create a more cohesive campaign with a set theme, to really tie in the unity of the men. We have a fantastic creative and communications team of graphic designers and photographers who were able to execute this vision to the highest level. Each year, the Active Minds Western team suggest men that they know in their lives who would be good for the campaign. Once the list is finalized, it’s just about taking a quick picture and asking the men to submit the written portion of their story. It is 100% up to them when deciding what to write. Anecdotes or thoughts, specific or general, it is completely up to the men on how they want to approach the campaign.
What is the importance of sharing these stories?
Mental health is a sort of taboo topic among males, so highlighting this absence with a daily barrage of stories and views from people on our own campus really is an inspiring and relatable way to show everyone that mental illness is an incredibly common occurrence. It shows that men have just as much to say as women do, and hopefully encourages others to reduce the stigma of mental health. Within the group of 30 men who are a part of #MenForMentalHealth, the campaign shows the diversity of men in their sexuality and cultural upbringing and how these factors contribute to their mental health, which is just another layer to each post.
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“It’s sad how our environment is one that forces us all to live day by day and hour by hour… in way that forces us to be ‘in the moment’ at all times, making it much more difficult to see things from a long-term perspective. In the moment, we inflate the importance of whatever we are focusing on – also inflating any stress associated with failing. We are constantly exposing ourselves to an inflated sense of stress and expectations. I encourage you all to occasionally think of things from a long term view. Hopefully it helps give some perspective to your routine. We have so much more time in our lives beyond school, and our time here at Western is so short in comparison.” – Jake Anderson #MenForMentalHealth
What message does this campaign spread on your campus?
#MenForMentalHealth is a great campaign in its candor. We have seen that the men involved are very transparent in sharing their stories, which in turn provides a very real and unapologetic view for others to read. These are people who are just like you. They sit in the row in front of you in class, they are on your flag football team, they are your soph (upper year support), they are your peers. These are men just like you, so if they are feeling a certain way, so can you, and it is okay for you to feel the way that you do.