WACO, Texas (FOX 44) – How are you feeling? A simple question, but difficult to answer for many people, and maybe even more so for men.
About 40 percent of men will not talk about their mental health. Furthermore, men are less likely than women to be diagnosed with mental health issues.
“We see it affect our men, our uncles, our dads our cousins, brother,” says mental health advocate, Dominic Villa.
Because of the stigma surrounding men’s mental health in our society, it’s often not discussed.
“One of the biggest stigmas is the downplaying of symptoms and also the machismo that can kind of cloud around mental health,” says Villa.
Growing up in the streets of South Waco, Dominic Villa noticed how people in his community silently struggle with mental health.
“There’s not places for people to go where they feel safer, where they feel that they belong. There’s not many people that are available to speak to that look like these people in these communities,” says Villa.
Dominic wanted to change that stigma and in 2019 he started South Waco Strength. South Waco Strength started off as people coming together to work on their physical health, but Dominic noticed it helped other people connect on other serious matters.
“It was a journey into just promoting mental health awareness and negating stigmas, especially for our local community, which is comprised mostly of black and brown people,” says Villa.
South Waco Strength allows people to open up about issues that impact one’s mental health things most people are not comfortable sharing. The biggest causes of mental health issues in men’s lives are work pressure, financial issues, and their health.
“We have casual conversations about therapy or it’s a very direct, deep conversation about what I and another person may be facing. Whatever the spectrum of seriousness is, I think is very important for us to have the convo to negate that stigma,” says Villa.
Dominic urges those struggling with mental health to go out and seek help.