Samaritans Ireland has published a new handbook with practical advice on how wellbeing initiatives can appeal to men who may be going through tough times before they reach crisis point.
Launched on Men’s Health Week, the handbook — Engaging men in Ireland earlier: a guide to service design — is based on insights from a series of workshops with men. It provides five key principles for anyone designing, running or commissioning wellbeing groups for men.
From fostering achievement to building relationships and feeling a sense of purpose, the new Samaritans Ireland handbook is informed by what men told Samaritans they believe is really important for maintaining positive mental health.
It also includes practical elements for service providers to consider such as accessibility and communication, which are crucial in helping them appeal to men earlier than at present.
It is available for any group or local authority which is considering starting a new men’s initiatives, or for groups who are already up and running and want to self-evaluate their service.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said: “Men account for three out of every four suicides in Ireland and have long been identified as a high-risk group.”
“The men Samaritans spoke to had been struggling for years and despite experiencing many well-known risk factors, opportunities to help them at critical points before they reached crisis were missed.
“We know more needs to be done to keep these men from falling through the cracks. We must start by ensuring men with lived-experiences are at the roots of service design to guarantee supports are available at the right time and in the right ways.”
Talking and making friends were seen as crucial elements for any wellbeing service, however, the initiatives that were most appealing to the men that we spoke to, used activities as the basis for conversations removing the pressure to open up straight away.
The handbook builds on the findings from a recent Samaritans study, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, which explored the experiences of less well-off, middle-aged men and found that these men were struggling for years without any form of support and the wellbeing support available wasn’t seen as relevant to them, until they had reached a point of crisis.
Louise Hamra, Policy Officer with Samaritans Ireland added: “It’s vital there are wellbeing supports offered to men at all stages of life, not only at points of crisis. These supports must take a lived-experience delivery and design approach to ensure men can engage in ways that meet their needs and feel relevant and appropriate to them.
This handbook will help wellbeing initiatives for men to achieve this. Our research has demonstrated that effective support should facilitate two key things: meaningful connections and purposeful activity; principles that underpin the service design within our handbook.
For more information on the handbook contact [email protected]