Razek Stresses the Importance of Sharing Mental Health Stories With Others

Mental health is often overlooked and undiscussed, according to Matthew Razek, associate director of First Year Experience at Boston College. 

“Why is it so hard for individuals—particularly men—to admit when they need help?” Razek said. 

Razek was the keynote speaker for “No Shame: The Talk,” hosted on Monday by UGBC and the Center for Student Wellness. Razek discussed the topic of men’s mental health as part of BC’s mental health awareness week.

“Everyone’s journey, especially as it pertains to their mental health, is unique and different,” Razek said.

Razek described his own journey with mental health through the lens of his early friendships.

“Growing up, I lived pretty independently,” Razek said. “I never found myself in any one friend group but had many independent friends. As high school and college came, I found myself starting to hear about those friend connections that everyone was talking about.”

Razek said his desire to make new friends in high school and college led him to realize his personal struggles with loneliness and low self-esteem. 

“I think I never had genuine connections because I was too worried about fitting in with overthinking almost any scenario that came up,” Razek said. 

Despite these struggles, Razek said a lack of knowledge about mental health prevented him from defining and articulating his feelings.

“I didn’t have the language, and no one really ever explained to me what a mental health struggle was,” Razek said. “I was never dissuaded from talking about it, it was just never a topic that came up.”

Razek also imparted two pieces of advice for overcoming barriers to discussing mental health: to stay humble and be hopeful, and to love and receive love.

“Every day, I read a lot of evidence that reminds me of the power of sharing our stories, and that our journeys are all interconnected and that we’re not alone or burdened,” he said. “It’s about letting people who care about you and love you have their moment of recognizing this and all the time be supportive.”

Razek also provided a third piece of advice: to inspire. He said this guided his own journey of mental health, particularly through the inspiration that the running community provides.

“I often find that this inspiration for me comes from the many conversations that are happening there [among the runners] about how people are doing, what relationship issues are coming up, and what’s on their mind, and how we can share each of our stories,” Razek said. “You never know the inspiration that you give to others who need it most.”

Razek concluded his talk by reiterating the importance of courage and sharing stories about mental health with loved ones, even when it may be lonely or intimidating.

“Stay humble, be hopeful. Love and receive love, inspire—concepts and lessons that I’ve taken with me every day,” Razek said.

April 23, 2024

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