Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health
Dr. Kevin Snyder has presented over 1,150 programs in all 50 states and has been with CAMPUSPEAK for over a decade. He’s also a former Dean of Students, an author with a best-selling book, and a professional speaker with a wealth of unique expertise both in Student Affairs and in corporate America.
We sat down with Kevin to ask a few questions about his perspective on what makes a great leader, and to learn more about his new 2017 presentation Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health – a program designed to change the culture about men’s mental health. Kevin’s nuggets of wisdom below are ideal to share with your student groups and organizational leaders.
Question: Reading your bio, you have an interesting background. How did you get started in Student Affairs?
Kevin: As a new student in college, I struggled. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was depressed, anxious, and miserable. I tried dropping out on numerous occasions, but someone always stepped in to convince me to not to – usually, my RA or the Dean of Students because he had to sign my withdrawal paperwork. During my second year, I decided to give college one final shot at getting outside my comfort zone and more involved on campus. Becoming more engaged changed everything. I went from near drop out to Homecoming King and Greek Man of the Year. Although I graduated with a degree in Marine Biology, I knew I wanted to work on a college campus so I could help and support other students like people did for me. That’s why I’ve been a Director of Student Activities, Orientation Coordinator, Academic Advisor, and most recently a Dean of Students.
Question: Why did you develop your new program, Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health?
Kevin: For a couple of reasons. First, #1, because I was surprised no one was talking about mental health for men specifically. If we don’t talk about issues affecting men, the statistics will only get worse. Yet the social stigmas are targeted against men. So as a speaker, I view my role as a facilitator for to have this extremely important conversation but in a positive, empowering tone. Secondly, #2, I wanted those in my audience not to feel alone like I did when I was in college. Once I realized others around me were quietly battling similar issues, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone. I’m alive today because of the support I received from others. Third, #3, nothing will change in life unless we do. We all have a role and purpose in life, and it’s up to us to identify what that is. For me, at least right now, my purpose is to be a catalyst that inspires positive change. This new program for men accomplishes that.
Question: Why do you think men will benefit from your presentation?
Kevin: Because this program might be the first time they have a conversation about it. This might be the first time they feel safe or comfortable to address their authentic self. Listen, 73% of the average person’s thoughts on a daily basis are negative. When I first read this statistic, it shocked me. Once I became more aware of my own internal thoughts – my mindset – and how I could reprogram my mind to deal with those issues and focus on the positive, my entire life changed. I still have moments, like anyone, but I know where to place focus. The benefit from this presentation will be sharing with men how to become more aware, so they know how to help themselves and others.
Question: In your program for men, what are some of the issues you address?
Kevin: I designed the presentation to be uplifting, interactive … even entertaining. I’m not the type of speaker who can present without laughter and audience engagement. This is especially important with the topics I’m covering in this presentation including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sexual and substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide. I’ll address the signs and symptoms of these issues, but more importantly, how others can seek help and treatment. More people suffer from these issues than heart disease and cancer combined.
Question: Generally speaking, do you have a favorite type of audience when you speak?
Kevin: Oh gosh. Well, as I said before, each audience is unique, but my speaking roots are with college students. So if you twisted my arm for an answer, it’s definitely college student audiences. I love speaking at fraternity and sorority events like Greek Weeks, leadership activities, and new member events. I also love presenting campus-based keynotes with new students during orientation or for student leadership conferences. I designed three different keynotes in order to have a powerful program for each unique collegiate audience: (1) Leadership DNA, (2) Proud and Purposeful: The Fraternal Experience and (3) UNSTOPPABLE.
Question: Lastly, if there’s one thing you’d want someone reading this to know about how to achieve their goals and taking their leadership to the next level, what would that be?
Kevin: Just one thing? Well, effective leadership is never about doing just one thing, so that’s difficult to answer. Instead, it’s about doing many things over and over … and doing them well. However, I have found two patterns with people who seem to struggle with achieving goals. Number 1, they either aren’t as clear as they think in regards to what that goal actually is; or number 2, they don’t take consistent action to develop a strategy and work towards that goal. I know that’s more than one thing, but clarity and strategy are crucial to becoming an effective leader as well as leading a team. No one wants to follow someone else who doesn’t know where they are going or how they’re going to get there.
Question: Thanks so much for talking with us.
Kevin: Honored. Thank you!