Movember and Mental Health

By Chapter Consultant Daniel Lyon, Omega Mu-Oklahoma State University '16

The transition from high school to college can be one of great turmoil and distress for many students.  Moving from a comfortable environment of structure and social immersion to one of isolation and independence challenges students with feelings of isolation, unrelatedness, and alienation.

Often times, these difficulties lead students to reach for ways to cope, a majority of which are not considered to have positive impacts for mental stress, such as alcohol abuse, substance use, or supplementing sleep for extra curricular activities. More than 50% of 1,964 college students surveyed in a long term study reported symptoms of mood disorders along with alertness and attentive problems, as well as anxiety disorders affecting memory and executive functioning problems (Homes and Silvestri, 2010). Other reports show a rise in severe psychological problems such as self harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, and sexual assaults among 274 institutions between 2010-2015 (Pedrelli et al, 2015). Factors such as depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness or isolation, combined with habits such as substance abuse and an unwillingness to seek help can attribute to suicidal ideation and attempts. Adults aged 18-25 have a higher rate of suicidal thoughts, making plans for suicide, and attempting suicide.  Three quarters of all suicides are men, which equates to roughly half a million men taking their life each year as a result of mental turmoil.  

These trends give urgency to raise awareness for the apparent student mental health crisis that is sweeping our universities and colleges.  These days, it seems easier to look at your phone than to engage in conversation with your neighbor.  With this is in mind, it also seems easier to keep feelings of discontent in our heads rather than sharing with others or seeking help.  The movember foundation is a multinational charity that aims to raise awareness of and money for men’s health.  Originally focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, men’s health awareness and lifestyles, the foundation has made a sizeable focus shift towards poor mental health.

I am all too soon reminded of an undergraduate member of Deke who took his life this semester.  The tragedy and loss of our dear brother shows the importance of mental health for our college students and our undergraduate Brothers. Growing a moustache for Movember is not about style or looks or trends, it is about a conversation; a conversation that encourages and empowers males to discuss the risk factors to men's mental health and to seek help in combating them.  It is these factors which we must raise awareness of through conversation and community partnership.  

And Movember isn’t just about raising awareness to mental health; It also covers testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and physical health. These are all things that affect men in great numbers, and Movember is working to remove the stigma of talking about these issues, raise awareness of the issues, and get programs and research funded to help men with these issues.

If you’re a Deke and would like to join the Movember cause, sign up and create a Movember profile at Movember.com. You can help by growing a Mo or committing to an active challenge to get in shape, or stay in shape. You can start a DKE chapter team if your chapter isn’t already participating in Movember, and be sure to join the DKE International Network here: https://us.movember.com/mospace/network/48108. Or, if you just want to donate to the cause, feel free to donate to my page here at Mobro.co/daniellyon.

On Drinking

By Chapter Consultant Craig Dick, Phi Alpha-UBC '16

In college you’ve no doubt heard someone jokingly make a remark like “Chris, yeah, that guy drinks so much, he’s an alcoholic,” and you laugh it off as you buy another beer at the bar. I am not here to tell you that's not politically correct; I couldn’t care less about that. What I’m suggesting is the possibility that maybe this Chris guy is an actual alcoholic. And if you try to live your life as the brother you’d want to have, then you owe it to this guy to watch out for him.

In my case there was a guy like Chris, and he was my uncle. Fortunately during my lifetime I never saw him at rock bottom, but the stories I heard from my father were rather scary. It ended up costing my uncle his job, his marriage, and his only son - essentially his whole life at the time. When he passed away three years ago next week, he was over 30 years sober and was able to talk about that part of his life, but there are things that he was never able to get back - the biggest being his son.

I write this piece because on Sunday I had lunch with his son -- a man I had never met before, a man my father hadn’t seen in forty years, a man Chris never got to see again. As we sat there talking to this man about his life, you could tell he was frustrated that his biological father had left and never came looking for him. The lunch was, to say the least, an emotional rollercoaster. But I knew Chris...well, sober Chris...very well and he was the kind of guy that would give the shirt off his back.

Alcohol can be a great way to help take the edge off after a long day, but if abused, it can lead to things like alcoholism, which can ruin lives, families, and friendships. That being said, I’m not saying you or your brothers are alcoholics. In fact, a large amount of college students do not abuse alcohol, and out of those that do only ⅓ of those go on to have a problem with alcohol after graduation.

If you suspect that you or one of your brothers is abusing alcohol, you can do something about it. You owe yourself (them), and your (their) present and future family to do something about it.  

Knowing that alcoholism runs in my family, I would challenge myself to not drink from time to time in my undergraduate career because those wheels were always turning in the back of my mind. Challenge yourself to drink less than what you might normally drink, or even not drinking at all, and see what sort of night or experience you have. At the end of it ask yourself if it was really hard for you to do, and if so why? If you suspect a brother or a friend has an issue, challenge him and yourself to do the same; make a friendly wager on who can stay sober longer. Challenges like this may seem silly, but in the long run it could make all the difference.

Why Did You Rush?

By Chapter Consultant Turner Spears, Lambda Tau-UT Knoxville '16

As I travel around the country visiting various chapters, I frequently attend or assist in planning recruitment events. At each of them I always ask myself the same question - why did I rush? We often forget that this is an important question. A chapter focuses so much time, attention, and resources to recruitment, but we seldom sit and think about why we decided to unite our hearts in one. On the opposite side of the table, we should also think about why people decided to walk right past the Halls of Dear Old ΔKE. At one point, every brother was the kid in a blazer with a pocket full of schedules and a plate full of free food; what made us trade our rush schedules for a bid?

I had always considered Greek Life, but I had always made excuses as to why I shouldn’t join. The list of excuses was aggressively average: I didn’t have time, I didn’t want to pay for friends, I was already involved in a plethora of other organizations. At the end of the day, I just hadn’t given it a shot because it didn’t seen that noteworthy.

As a Junior, I decided that it was time to jump in. I went Greek because I knew it would give me the opportunity to expand my friend network, give me another chance to help lead an organization, and because the girl I was dating at the time was a Sorority President. I went Greek because I knew something was missing in my life, I went Deke because they sold me one hell of a dream.

I was recruited in a 6 bedroom apartment by a group of guys who had the fortitude to start a chapter of Delta Kappa Epsilon at the University of Tennessee. I had been to several rush events at different houses on the row and I knew that I could succeed at any of the organizations. After ten minutes at this off campus apartment, speaking to ten guys of an off campus fraternity, I had made my decision.

I wasn’t recruited with pomp and circumstance. There was no girl standing by the door to give me a name tag and a smile. There was no shotgunning beers in a bedroom. What they did have was a letter signed by George W. Bush on a corner coffee table from the previous convention, a picture of Teddy Roosevelt on the wall, and a faded t-shirt with ΔKE on the pocket. I had met a group of men who had decided to forge their own path and form their own destiny and who had surrounded themselves with a 170 year old Fraternity filled with men who did the same.

I highly encourage all brothers to give this idea some thought. After reflecting on why you joined, you can realize what is actually effective in recruitment. Tennessee was 13% Greek at the time and I was part of the 87% that had decided against Fraternity. Within ten minutes my world view had started to change. Now I work for Deke and actively recruit new members almost on a daily basis. It wasn’t free stuff, girls, or booze; It was a hell of a dream that I am happy I bought.

 

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

By Chapter Consultant Clayton Trette, Iota-Centre College '16

As of this month the other members of staff and I have officially completed a third of our firstyear on staff.  Four months can pass by amazingly fast as anyone who’s been in college can attest when they have a semester long project.  You blink and all of a sudden you have a week to do what should have been done over three to four months.  

I think I’ve learned quite a lot so far in this job and I’ve certainly seen a lot.  I’ve visited 13 college campuses, 12 of which I’d never been too, through this job so far and still have a number left to go.  I have had a number of nights spent forcing down coffee trying to finalize plans to help make recruitment successful or coordinating vehicles and drivers to get from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa.  I have loved the challenge of walking into a chapter where you expect one thing and get the opposite or walk in having no idea what you’ll see.  

However, there is always the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that even with all that’s happened in such a short amount of time it hasn’t been enough.  I get ideas a month or more after a project is done about how it could have gone better or smoother or easier.  It’ll drive you nuts when that little voice occupies any free time you get to let you know how much better it could have been if you’d only thought of this earlier.  An encouraging phrase for these kinds of moments is always at the bottom of any email sent by my colleague, Turner Spears: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are” – Theodore Roosevelt.  In this job, in school, in any point in life the most you can do is what you can, with what you have, wherever you are at that time.  

Don’t get discouraged when something doesn’t work out exactly perfect.  Try your best at it and that’s all anyone can ask of you.  Record those ideas that pop up later, that can be discouraging at the time, for the future.  Pass that idea and your thoughts onto the next person so they have more to work with and think about. Especially when you are in a position when you know someone else will be coming along in a year or two to replace you.  Give them the best shot at making our fraternity, your company, or the world a better place for the next one in line, and leave a positive mark from your time there.  

Most importantly though is not to wait! Take action now, record your thoughts now, and share these things NOW, because before you know it time has flown by and you’ve missed the chance.