“People say men don’t talk, well that’s bullshit”: A focus group study exploring challenges and opportunities for men’s mental health promotion

Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
PLOS ONE, 2022, 17, (1), pp. e0261997-e0261997
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
Men’s mental health promotion presents unique challenges including gender-related barriers and stigmas, which demand novel approaches to prevention, treatment, and management. The aim of this study was to explore men’s perceptions of mental health and preferences for mental health promotion. Seven focus groups (N = 59) were conducted in Sydney, Australia, including 5 groups of men (M = 50.65, SD = 13.75 years) and 2 groups of stakeholders who had frontline experience working with men (e.g., men’s groups, health clubs, mental health advocates). Data were analysed using thematic analysis and interpreted using a gender relations approach to explore connections between gender roles, relations and identities, and men’s mental health. Three overarching themes were identified; (1) Roles, identities and the conceptualisation and concealment of mental health challenges, revealing challenges to mental health promotion related to perceptions of men’s restrictive emotionality and emotional awareness as well as difficulties with conceptualising the internalised experiences of mental health, (2) Constraining social contexts of stigma and gender relations, identifying how social context and the policing of gender roles often obscured opportunities for discussing mental health and help-seeking behaviour, (3) Anchoring mental health promotion to acceptable lifestyle practices, highlighting potential remedies included leveraging men’s social practices related to reciprocity, normalising mental health promotion relative to other behaviours, and embedding mental health promotion within acceptable masculine practices. Discussed are directions for men’s community-based mental health promotion and opportunities for how masculinities may be negotiated and expanded to embody mental health promoting values.
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