Faux masculinities among college men who experience depression

John Oliffe, Paul Galdas, Christina S Han, Mary T Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depression is a significant problem among college men that can be complicated by masculine ideals of stoicism, reluctance to seek help, and risky self-management strategies. Underpinning these issues are complexities in recognizing what behaviors might be indicative of college men's depressive symptoms. Findings drawn from a qualitative study of 25 Canadian-based college men who self-identified or were diagnosed with depression revealed three predominant masculine identities: the angry man; the solitary man; and the risk-reliant man. Within each of these themes men embodied aspects of idealized masculinity that were difficult to distinguish as symptoms of depression or as representative of the activities with which many college men partake. The angry man identity described men who expressed anger, at least in part, to dissipate depression invoked pain and emotional distress. The solitary man category included men who self-isolated, fearing that others would recognize and judge them as harboring depression. Risk-reliant men employed strategies including alcohol and other drug overuse rather than relinquish control by engaging with professional health care providers and services. Guided by the overall findings we argue this phenomenon as 'faux masculinities' - characterized by men's engagement in practices consistent with idealized masculine identities but that emerge from and/or in response to the experience of depression. Faux masculinities are discussed within the context of the challenges posed for college men and their health care providers in pointing toward targeted depression interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-92
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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