Do safe spaces work?
Posted on 15th July 2022 at 14:27
A blog piece about the efficacy of the use of 'safe spaces' in public areas in helping people open up about their mental health issues.
Do Safe Spaces Really Work?
A Discussion Around Mental Health In Public Places
In a world that can be incredibly intolerant, safe spaces create a place in which you can shy away from judgmental criticism and harsh opinions. While many people create safe spaces within the four walls of their homes, public safe spaces exist as well.
So, do safe spaces really work in supporting mental health? Just because safe spaces exist doesn’t mean everyone will utilize them.
Men already feel copious amounts of shame and embarrassment around voicing their emotions, so creating a place they can go to relieve the heavy burdens of mental health should be an incredible opportunity… if it works.
So, if you’re as curious as I am about the success stories of safe spaces, let’s dive in and conquer this tricky subject once and for all.
What Is a ‘Safe Space’?
While the general concept of a safe space has only started trending in recent years, the thought seems incredibly simple: a safe space is defined as any area or environment in which an individual feels they can go without being discriminated against, judged, harassed, or criticized.
In addition, a person visiting a safe space is protected from any emotional or physical harm and can be a shelter against the never ending stressors of life. Think of a safe space as first aid for the soul.
While there has been some controversy over younger generations having access to safe spaces, when you think about it - it’s simply a place in which a human should be treated as such. It’s a place where people are free to be themselves without fear of others. It’s a place in which walls can come down, and masks can be taken off, allowing an individual to fully be their authentic self.
Where Do Safe Spaces Occur?
Over the years safe spaces have been implemented in schools across the country. From elementary schools to college classrooms, these spaces are often marked as a place of inclusivity for all.
Many schools just want to create an environment in which students feel like they are loved. No matter who they are or where they come from, these safe spaces can give individuals a sense of belonging like no other.
Some colleges dedicate classrooms, while other schools utilize old bus garages or top floor lounge areas. No matter where the space is held the message is always the same.
What Happens At a Safe Space?
Student leaders of safe spaces around the country all have their own twist on their safe space, however the one universal theme is support through communication.
While many safe spaces allow students to come and relax, mental health groups are held on a daily or weekly basis giving individuals a place to vent, cry, or express emotions they’ve been otherwise holding back. Other students come to decompress after a long week, while another portion come to work on homework, college resumes, or job applications.
No matter the reason for coming, every safe space is all inclusive and has a strong emphasis on supporting mental health.
The Controversy Behind Safe Spaces:
Believe it or not, there are opponents to the idea of safe spaces. Many groups came out in attack of safe spaces, mocking the ways youth and young adults are being “coddled” in America.
For some older generations, the idea of a safe space was ridiculous - as their generation was left to fend for themselves and suppress any negative emotions that arose.
Still, others felt as though safe spaces gave students an ‘easy way out.’ In other words, these environments allowed students to retreat when they couldn’t manage being in the presence of others with opposing views or ideas.
None of these claims are supported by statistical data, however, and many of these views simply remain a biased opinion.
Are Safe Spaces Effective at Improving Mental Health?
With 1 in 5 adults being diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year, a global pandemic, and the rise in social media, there are no easy fixes to the broken society we all now live in.
However, safe spaces are a baby step to a bigger solution. Safe spaces are still a new topic and much research about their efficacy in improving conversations around mental health needs to be recorded, however, safe spaces do provide resources for individuals who may not feel comfortable talking in that specific location.
Suicide prevention hotlines, local therapists, and nearby group programs are all ways in which safe spaces provide an outlet for those who would rather talk in a more intimate setting.
Many mental health professionals do agree however, safe spaces are incredibly important in improving symptoms of mental health - whether this is due to a sense of community, the stability offered by these environments, or the conversations surrounding mental illness that take place.
While some opponents of safe spaces argue these environments give individuals a “get out of jail free card” we can all agree that the ability to take a step back and enter a warm and welcoming environment is beneficial for everyone.
Never before have generations had the ability to surround themselves with others in a safe, judgment free zone.
As time goes on, research on how successful safe spaces are will begin to come out and many mental health professionals are confident in the numbers. For men, communication may not always come easy, so having a set location in which they can lay down their mask of manliness can truly be life-altering.
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