Candid discussion on men’s and boys’ mental health
Courtesy of Marin County
Throughout their lives, men and boys are reluctant to seek mental health support, especially in times of distress, and this can be a key risk factor for suicide and other behavioral health issues.
To raise awareness, the Men and Boys Action Team of the Marin County Collaborative for Suicide Prevention and the Marin County Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) are hosting a session in-person titled “Redefining Strength: A Conversation About Men and Boys. Health” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19 at the Marin County Civic Center in San Rafael. Online registration is open and required for participation The event is hosted in partnership with the RxSafe Marin Grassroots Group, the Marin County District Attorney’s Office and the Marin County Probation Department.
During the event, collaborating partners will roll out their Redefining Strength campaign and hear from expert panelists before opening the community conversation on men’s and boys’ mental health and wellbeing and how to ask for aid.
Through its event and campaign, the Men and Boys Action Team takes action to inspire new thinking and action in men and boys who are not known to seek help regarding mental health issues, suicidality, substance use or addiction. After the event, organizers will continue to listen and learn from men and boys and share findings.
The Men and Boys Action Team is made up of people who identify as men throughout their lives to discuss mental health awareness and education. The team is led by William Spence Casey, a licensed clinical social worker with the Marin County Veterans Services Office, and Otis Bruce Jr., Marin County Assistant District Attorney.
Casey, in his 18th year of helping veterans, said his job fits well with his love of military history, his family of veterans and his enjoyment of helping people.
“I’m very proud to be a co-lead with the Men’s and Boys’ Action Team for the collaboration,” Casey said. “Our primary goal is to normalize a discussion about suicide prevention and mental illness. I have concluded from my life experience and my profession that mental illness is part thief and part silent killer. When left untreated and unrecognized, it robs us of our time, our joy and our happiness and, in a sense, our lives.
Bruce directs the Attorney’s Office’s social justice and equity programs and serves as community liaison and policy coordinator. A youth mentor and Marin trial attorney for over 30 years, he is dedicated to ensuring that youth and adults receive support and services for psychologically healthy, productive and happy lives.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our community’s mental health issues, it is now important to encourage honest, open and frank conversations about men’s mental health, recovery and well-being, young men and boys who might be struggling,” Bruce mentioned.
Among the young members of the team is Deyne Jurie, a student from Dominican University who became an intern and joined the team in the fall of 2021.
“It’s very interesting to be part of a team with older men who have lived through or suffered from mental health issues,” Jurie said. “As a student, I represent the transition stage from college to adult life for our team. Once the campaign is launched, I plan to post it on my social media to reach my age group.
Twice a month, the Suicide Prevention Collaborative’s men and boys team hold community meetings with presentations and discussions on topics of what it means to ask for help, how to help others and ways to do it. coping using healthy and positive strategies.
Dave Cort, executive director of the San Geronimo Valley Community Center, regularly attends monthly meetings and is a member of the men’s and boys’ team.
“This work really captured my interest, especially because two of my close friends lost their sons to overdoses,” Cort said. “The structure of the team and its focus on men and boys with diverse lived experiences and a wide age range was also appealing. I had an extremely great experience with the team because I can hear high school and college guys as well as men of all colors.
BHRS Director Dr Jei Africa said the event was an opportunity to directly address the mental health stigma of men and boys. “What the Men and Boys Action Team shows us is that we can be each other’s caretakers and care for each other when we are hurting or struggling,” Africa said.
Locally, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services. If you or someone you know is in mental distress, find resources at https://prevention.marinbhrs.org/ or contact:
Marin Suicide Prevention Hotline: (415) 499-1100
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255 and en Español: 1 (888) 628-9454
The Trevor Lifeline: 1 (866) 488-7386
Friendship Line (for ages 60 and over): 1 (800) 971-0016
Crisis text line: Text SAILOR to 741741