Based upon the insights from a series of co-design workshops with men, Engaging men earlier: a guide to service design 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 handbook is informed by what men told Samaritans 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.
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.
Rowan took part in the workshops that informed the handbook and reflected on such a wellbeing service targeted at men. He said: “For example, with the repair café, maybe they could ask you to bring something broken along. That’s an automatic ice-breaker and avoids awkward introductions.”
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 that the wellbeing support available wasn’t seen as relevant to them, until they had reached the point of crisis.
It’s vital that men who might be struggling are offered wellbeing support earlier in order to prevent them from reaching crisis point, but we also need to make sure that the support that is available is appropriate for their needs and feels relevant 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.
Samaritans Policy Manager, Joe Potter
Each principle in this handbook is also accompanied by a consideration of how it can be best delivered during social distancing restrictions due to coronavirus, based on how existing services have adapted.
Read more about the key principles for men’s wellbeing services:
Visit the new handbook on men’s wellbeing services here