Major Project for Men’s Mental Health

Major Project for Men’s Mental Health

Pro Bono Australia
June 18, 2015

Two major Not for Profits have joined forces in a bid to reduce the stigma around men’s mental health issues.

Not for Profit, beyondblue has launched a what is describes as world-first research project involving thousands of men, including former Australian Rules Football players as well as refugees, to end the embarrassment that stops them from getting help for conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The STRIDE (Stigma Reduction Interventions: Digital Environments) project includes six smaller projects that use technology, such as apps and websites, along with evidence-based techniques to show men that taking action on mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

It is funded by beyondblue with donations from The Movember Foundation and has been unveiled to coincide with Men’s Health Week this week.

beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said STRIDE was a response to the “shocking” number of men who die by suicide in Australia each year, which is almost double the number who die on the roads.

“Nearly 2000 men die by suicide each year, with men three times more likely to die this way than women,” Harman said.

“This is a national tragedy and is fuelled by the fact that men don’t seek help for mental health problems as much as women because they don’t want to be seen as weak or as a burden on others.

“In recent years there have been increases in awareness about depression and anxiety but we now need to focus on using digital tools to reduce the stigma that prevents men from seeking support and keeps the suicide rate high.

“We must focus on stigma reduction within the digital environment because this is where men spend an increasing amount of time, and STRIDE aims to do this by challenging the attitudes of participating men, showing them the benefits they can reap if they tackle these conditions and analysing which elements of each of the six smaller projects has worked best.

“I have no doubt this project will save men’s lives, while teaching us the best ways to reduce the stigma of mental health conditions among men.”

The Movember Foundation’s Executive Director of Programs, Paul Villanti, said STRIDE’s scope meant it would include a wide range of at-risk men.

“Each of these six projects will drive men within the target communities to confront any negative or stigmatising attitudes they hold about mental health conditions,” Villanti said.

“Stigmatising beliefs can be the biggest barriers to men getting help but STRIDE will aim to remove these barriers and save lives.

“In the Tell Your Story project, 600 refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will hear stories in their first language, from fellow refugees with PTSD who have sought support.”

Villanti said participating men will learn why their fellow refugees sought help and how it made them feel better.

Former Australian Rules Football players will also be part of the project.

“Another project, Real Courage, will have up to 1,000 former Australian football players, coaches and construction workers involved,” Villanti said.

“These men come from male-dominated environments, where traits such as self-reliance and stoicism are celebrated and where men can suddenly find themselves sidelined due to injury or other factors, which can lead to loss of self-esteem and shifts in the way they see themselves. To encourage conversations, ambassadors from these communities will share their stories.

The projects commence on July 1 and will run for two years before being evaluated.

Information on the six projects can be found here.

This page reproduces an article on the Pro Bono Australia website.

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