Breaking the Barriers Around Men and Mental Health

Since the pandemic, the conversation around mental health has expanded. Although it has become a neutralized topic, men often feel left out of the conversation. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over six million men suffer from depression each year, most of them undiagnosed. Tom Nora, along with three other students, created “Brighter Days for Bradley,” a senior capstone project that is fighting the stigma around mental health for men. 

During his Freshman year—at the height of the pandemic—Nora was struggling and sought help from Bradley’s counseling services. Due to social lockdown, counseling was online and freshman could not experience their first year at college with new classmates. “I can’t imagine people being in the same situation where they don’t know where to go,” he said. Nora also shared that as a male, he found it even more difficult to ask for help because of stereotypes around masculinity. 

To better understand the campus climate, he joined up with fellow students Dylan Smith, Darius Hannah and Nathan Lukowiak to create a survey. Advertising and public relations professor Dr. Pavelko helped them figure out which questions were best to target their audience. Outside of their survey, they also planned an event for speakers to emphasize the importance of their well-being. 

Ahead of Brighter Days for Bradley on April 10, they shared a pre-event survey specifically geared toward male-identifying students on campus. “Our overall objective is to have students feel positive about opening up, especially men because sometimes they don’t want to talk about mental health,” shared Nora. 

During the event, featured speakers shared information about how to get resources for mental health. The speakers included Dr. Juan Rios Vegas, Dr. Twila Lukowiak, Dr. Cecile Arquette, and Dr. Erik Braun, all Bradley professors in the education, counseling, and leadership department. They highlighted the importance of college students prioritizing their mental health, especially in a post-pandemic world. 

Brighter Days for Bradley plans to send out a post-event survey to see how attendees now perceive their mental health. “We want people to feel like everyone else is going through the same experiences and they feel driven to reach out for help,” stated Nora. 

For resources to combat mental health and to help fight the stigma, visit @brighterdaysforbradley on Instagram. 

Adalia Yeung