Men’s discussion group provides opportunity for students to challenge norms, stereotypes

The+Office+of+Engagement+and+Inclusion+is+located+in+the+Alumni+Memorial+Union.+

Photo by Josh Meitz

The Office of Engagement and Inclusion is located in the Alumni Memorial Union.

“I have met so many men throughout my life who have grown up in families that are very old fashioned,” Ram Sonani, a first year student in the College of Health Sciences, said. “There is definitely a stigma surrounding mental health and how men communicate their feelings.”

Marquette University, through the Student Wellness Center, has initiated a men’s discussion group that aims to “bring together male-identifying students across campus and from different backgrounds to discuss how societal expectations and ideations around masculinity have impact on them.”

“It is definitely nice to see Marquette offering this program to students. I always thought it (mental health), especially for men, is a topic that people don’t talk about unless they have to and the fact that our school takes that first step in introducing a discussion group is something that I think the students should applaud,” Nate Moodie, a sophomore in the College of Business Administration, said.

Additionally, November is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month.

The group meets at the Alumni Memorial Union in room 407 twice a month. The next sessions for the fall semester are Tuesday, Nov. 30 and Tuesday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

“In my research into masculinity and some programs being done on campuses across the country, I have found that one of the best ways you can connect with male-identifying students is through a discussion group discussing topics related to masculinity,” Chris King, director of the program and senior intern at the Student Wellness Center, said.

Due to the nature of the group, the Student Wellness Center must keep all participant information confidential and declined to release the topics of the discussion. However, many students, including Sonani, have suggested that the group aims at targeting topics surrounding mental health and the stigma men face when talking about how they feel.

“I feel like men really face a different experience when talking about their feelings. It feels like we are discriminated against if we shed a tear, and it almost seems like we are supposed to bottle our feelings up, and I just think that is messed up,” Sonani said.

As reported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2019, men died by suicide 3.63 times more often than women.

“I genuinely think the rates of suicide are higher for men because we are somewhat trained to not show our feelings the same way girls are. I feel like because men bottle up their feelings more, they sometimes look to suicide as an unfortunate option to get rid of their problems,” Moodie said.

This is not the first mental health initiative Marquette has rolled out. Last year, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Marquette initiated mental health days which were random days off throughout the spring semester which gave students a chance to take a mental break and check in with themselves throughout the ever changing effects of COVID-19.

“I am actually a transfer student from Xavier University and I have noticed that the mental health resources at Marquette are way more emphasized and highlighted here than they were at Xavier. Even the fact that we get COVID Cheqs everyday shows that the school cares,” Moodie said.

As reported by king, it is very open-ended and challenges students to question the norms of masculinity.

“Society teaches men that masculinity means you cannot show or talk about emotions or feelings,” King said. “I ask them about their thoughts on masculinity, and how those beliefs have impacted them throughout their life.”

While the participants weren’t allowed to share their comments with the Marquette Wire, many students mentioned the fact that the discussion group does indeed have an impact across campus and is something that they are grateful to have as an option for mental health resources.

Students who are interested in the discussion group should email Chris King at christopher.king@marquette.edu and students can also learn more about mental health resources on campus by visiting the Student Wellness Center website.

This story was written by TJ Dysart. He can be reached at theodore.dysart@marquette.edu.