Trae Watkins '08 Raises Awareness for Mental Health

Inspired by history teacher and coach Alex Rivenburgh’s “Movember” campaign challenge—part of the national effort to awareness about and funding for men’s health, specifically mental health, suicide prevention and prostate and testicular cancer. Participants are to grow a mustache to spark conversations about these critical issues. With the money raised, connections created and conversations generated, Movember has funded men’s health projects across the world.

Assistant Dean of Students Trae Watkins shares, “Our society shames men into believing they aren’t allowed to show weakness, be vulnerable, shed a tear or be sensitive. As a result, many males internalize their feelings, which is part of the reason males are four times more likely than females to commit suicide. Statistics show that suicide is now the #1 cause of death among adolescents and young people. I worked in mental health for 5 years and have personal experiences with depression/anxiety in the past. I understand that it takes a lot of courage and support from others to admit that you need help and to seek it.”

In Friday assembly, Trae made a bold move and surprised the school by allowing students to shave his beard that he had worked several years to perfect. “I wanted to do something highly visible and meaningful to raise awareness for mental health, something that would stick in the minds of the kids here on campus. My hope was that shaving my beard would inspire the students to have the courage and bravery to seek help when they need it.” 

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