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Peer support to better men’s mental health at core of new B.C. study

Approximately one of every five men in Canada will experience mental health challenges

A new study is looking to help men build social connections to better deal with mental health struggles and the stigma around them.

Paul Sharp and John Oliffe, both researchers and experts with UBC’s Men’s Health Research Program, are trying to find ways to help men through mental health struggles through the power of social connection.

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The study will be funded by the social science and humanities research council, and take place over the next two years. Right now, the focus is on recruiting participants.

“Outdated societal norms and social expectations can cause men to limit their expression of emotions for fear of being seen and judged as vulnerable, weak, or un-manly.”, said Sharp in a news release. A stigma has been created around men’s mental health and not feeling their symptoms are worthy of the support, according to Sharp.

He added men tend to go through these challenges of mental health in many different ways and at varying levels.

“Some men have found ways of engaging with friends, colleagues, or peer support groups that are healthy and supportive. Others might feel like they lack the skills and confidence to talk about mental health challenges with their peers.”

The study looks to help men build social connections and get through the stigma of mental health has on it. Sharp believes that gaining these social connections is particularly challenging for men.

In a recent survey, it was found that men are open to helping other men with mental health challenges. While they may be hesitant to receive help, men are open to helping others get through it, according to Sharp.

“Ultimately, findings from this research will be used to develop an online resource to support men to engage in peer support for better mental health.” Sharp said.

Canadian-based men over 18 who are interested in participating can learn more about the study here or contact Sharp at