The pressure on men to follow outdated stereotypes of masculinity is contributing to their anxiety, depression, risky drinking and violence against women, according to local research study The Man Box.
Mornington Peninsula Shire, Victoria, aims to advance gender equality and improve the health and wellbeing of men, boys and the broader community by addressing outdated masculine stereotypes with $120,000 over two years from VicHealth.
In partnership with specialist family services provider, Family Life, Council will deliver the Men and boys making it happen project which aims to engage and empower men and boys across the Mornington Peninsula to help raise awareness of how rigid gender roles hold men back from living healthy, happy lives.
Council and Family Life will work with Jesuit Social Services to deliver a series of training and education opportunities for Peninsula men and boys who wish to become allies, mobilising them to support others within the local community to challenge unhealthy gender stereotypes and break the stigma around men’s mental health.
Training will be based on the Jesuit Social Services The Man Box less study, which revealed young Australian men freed from outdated gender stereotypes enjoy better physical and mental health.
Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor, Sam Hearn, said, “According to research, 54 percent of young Australian men feel they are under pressure to solve their own personal problems without asking for help.
“We also know that 19.8 percent of the Mornington Peninsula male adult population have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression with men having often suffered from a high level of psychological stress.
“We need to normalise men’s mental health conversations and create a culture that tells men it’s ok to share your struggles and healthy to talk about your emotions.
“As a Council, we have a responsibility to mobilise community change and make sure we support our local community by looking after their mental health and wellbeing.
“We’re really looking forward to this project promoting respectful relationships and identifying community role models to shift attitudes and behaviours around gender stereotypes and improving health and wellbeing outcomes for men, boys and the broader community.”
The Man Box: A study on being a young man in Australia, was the first comprehensive study focusing on the attitudes to manhood and the behaviours of young Australian men aged 18 to 30.
It involved an online survey of a representative sample of 1000 young men from across the country, as well as focus group discussions with two groups of young men.
This study was modelled on research in the United States, United Kingdom and Mexico released by Promundo in 2017.
The findings shed new light on the social pressures young Australian men experience to be a ‘real man’ and the impact this can have on their wellbeing, behaviours and the safety of the wider community.
VicHealth Chief Executive Officer, Dr Sandro Demaio said it was important for young men to believe they could be themselves.
“If we want boys and young men to live happy, healthy lives and be caring and respectful in their relationships with women they need role models that show them being a good man is the same as
being a good person.”