n-movember

In 1992, Arsenio Hall asked exhibition wrestler Randy Savage, the original “Macho Man,” if he ever cried.

“It’s okay for macho men to show every emotion available,” the “Macho Man” responded. “I’ve cried a thousand times, and I’m gonna cry some more.”

Hall’s studio audience erupted in applause.

Yet almost three decades later, many “macho” men believe they aren’t supposed to talk about their feelings, according to Steve Woita, the assistant director for wellness services and fitness programs at the Campus Recreation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The pressure to portray a hyper-masculine or “macho” exterior, Woita said, prevents men from sharing their mental health concerns with others.

“You might not even be educated for yourself,” Woita said on the symptoms of depression and anxiety. “You might not know how to seek out and get help for that either.”

As November comes to an end, so too does the global month-long men’s health advocacy and education campaign “Movember,” which is recognized by some students and Lincoln organizations.

Movember, a portmanteau of “moustache” and “November,” encouraged participants to grow out facial hair to advocate and fundraise for men’s health issues, including mental health. 

Men died by suicide 3.63 times more than women in 2019, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. A BBC writer in that year said male suicide methods are often more violent, leading them to succeed more often.

Lincoln organization Speak Up held its fifth annual Movember Showcase, independent of the international charity, at the 1867 Bar last Saturday to raise awareness and fundraise for men’s mental health.

AJ Weigman, head of operations of Speak Up, said the organization is trying to change the perception of mental illness and mental health in Lincoln. 

“As being a man living with a mental illness, I understand kind of the social stigmas and issues that men in general experience with their mental health issues in our community,” Weigman said.

Speak Up posted on Nov. 21 on Facebook that it had raised over $1,600 from the concert, according to Weigman, all of which will go toward the Wellbeing Initiative, Incorporated — a national organization that supports individuals with mental health and substance use challenges.

Easton Sckerl, a sophomore biological sciences major and a resident assistant, grew a moustache this month to see how it would look. Sckerl said he didn’t know about Movember, but he was aware of male suicide statistics.

According to Sckerl, the standard procedure for dealing with residents’ mental health concerns is to sit down with the resident and then refer them to UNL’s Counseling and Psychological Services office for better support.

“A lot of people then take what they learned at CAPS then apply it back into a broader range of therapists and can find better help in different areas,” Sckerl said.

Men’s mental health is more of an issue in Greek life because it is shunned, according to Sckerl, a member of Phi Kappa Alpha.

“You don’t want to be a girl,” Sckerl said. Rather, you want “to stand up for [yourself] and be this strong figure to look up to.”

Phi Kappa Alpha supports men’s mental health through trainings with UNL’s suicide prevention program REACH, educating its members and reaching out to members in need, according to Sckerl.

Recognized student organization Out of the Darkness, part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, incorporated Movember into its monthly outreach event and Instagram.

According to Madi Pfeiffer, a sophomore psychological and political science double major and walk chair for OOTD, the RSO supports mental health awareness and suicide prevention for everyone. 

Pfeiffer said that talking about one’s feelings and mental health has been historically seen as feminine, “so a lot of men feel uncomfortable expressing their feelings.”

Out of the Darkness set up a booth in the Knoll Residential Center lobby for a student-organized mental health fair, according to Pfeiffer. Passersby were encouraged to write their thoughts, advice and support regarding men’s mental health and suicide prevention on a board titled “Movember.”

“It’s okay to cry,” one comment said.

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