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Angus Cloud death sparks mental health conversation; WNY organizations hope to break long-held stigmas

In the wake of 25-year old actor Angus Cloud’s death, men's mental health has become a popular topic of conversation on social media among teens and young adults.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Weeks after the death of his father, former 'Euphoria' actor Angus Cloud was found dead in his family's California home. 

The 25-year-old Cloud had been an advocate for addiction and mental health awareness. In the wake of his death, stigmas surrounding men's mental health awareness has become a popular topic of conversation on social media. 

Western New York mental health organizations hope to communicate messages that defy these stigmas. Adult unit chief and psychiatrist Dr. Wendy Weinstein believes combatting poor mental health begins with changing the way it is defined and acknowledged. 

"Mental and behavioral health are often separated from medical help, and they're the same thing. We need to stop regarding mental health and physical health as two separate issues. It’s one big umbrella, not two," Dr. Weinstein said. 

Senior VP of business development and crisis response services for Spectrum Health, Bob Cannata, hopes to see a change in treatment of those who may be suffering mentally. 

“We tend to say oh this person has an alcohol and substance problem, and then we focus on that, we blame people and it ends there. We don’t really think to look at the mental health struggles they may be having as well. You have to look at the whole person,” Cannata said.

'Suck it up, deal with it, be a man' 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. males make up 50% of the population yet accounted for nearly 80% of suicides in 2021. Simultaneously, the NIH reports that men are significantly less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties. Cannata says that for many, this resistance get help is rooted in stigmas about vulnerability that men are taught at an early age. 

"Men internalize this messages of “suck it up, deal with it, be a man” from their friends, family members, the media," Cannata said. "There's this idea that showing your vulnerability is a weakness." 

Dr. Weinstein expresses similar thoughts, believing that due to these stigmas many men find it more difficult to communicate their true feelings. 

"Men a lot of the time are taught not to express their feelings because they were taught that you don’t talk about feelings, and if you don’t talk about feelings you don’t even know what they are," Dr. Weinstein said. 

‘We need to have these conversations all the time'

In order to break these stigmas, both Weinstein and Cannata believe there are necessary steps to take that can help improve the conversation around mental health. Seeking education, vocalizing vulnerability and having trustworthy sources to communicate with they note, are a few ways to create positive change. 

"I think we’re all responsible for raising awareness in society, it’s not just the  agencies, organizations, county, state, I think we’re all responsible for learning about the risks of suicide and poor mental health. What are the warning signs and what are those resources in our community," Cannata said. 

Dr. Weinstein added: "Stigmas make you feel like you don’t need help. We need to have advocates that are there to say that its real, we can help you."

As mental health specialists, they hope to encourage open conversation about seeking support for those suffering in the Western New York area. 

“We need to have these conversations all the time, not just when there’s a crisis not just when it’s a designated month. We need to have these conversations on a regular basis,” Dr. Weinstein said.  

Those experiencing mental health difficulties can visit Brylin Hospital and Spectrum Care for crisis care, support programs, therapy services and more. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in a crisis situation, call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. 

For testaments from men experiencing mental health struggles, visit Men Get Help. 

For information about additional mental health support organizations in Western New York, click here. 

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