Lack of male role models causes depression

Young Men without a male role model are 3 times more likely to feel depressed according to new research on the positive impact of male role models from the Prince’s Trust.

(Image shows male mentors in Brighton  & Hove from abandofbrothers)

The research gives greater weight to mental health charity Mind’s campaign for a mental health strategy for men and boys and The Men’s Network’s plans to launch its Every Man A Mentor campaign in 2011.

The Prince’s Trust Macquarie Youth Index shows that more than one in four young people (27 per cent) claim that they do not have a positive role model in their life. Those without positive role models are significantly less happy with all areas of their life.

More than two in five (42 per cent) suffer from self loathing, 45 per cent “regularly” feel inferior to others, whilst almost a third (31 per cent) feel insecure “all” or “most” of the time says the report.

Young men without positive male role models are three times more likely than their peers with male role models to lack a sense of belonging.

They are also significantly less likely to feel happy and confident than those with male role models.

They are three times more likely to feel down or depressed all of the time and significantly more likely to admit they can’t remember the last time they felt proud.

More than one in three (36 per cent) say they lack a sense of identity.

Young men without male role model are more likely to end up not in employment, education or training – the category known as NEETS

One in five NEETS without a role model (21 per cent) have never had a job – full or part-time – compared with 14 per cent of their peers

More than two fifths of young people without role models have felt suicidal (42 per cent) – which is an interesting figure for those who seek to tackle the fact that one young person aged 16-24 commits suicide in England & Wales every day – and 80% of young suicide victims are male.

Young people without a role model are also significantly more likely to stay unemployed for longer according to the report. Generally, 27 per cent of young people do not have any positive role model in their lives. This rises to 36 per cent amongst those young people who are unemployed and 45 per cent amongst those who have been unemployed for one year or longer.

With regards to physical health, 42 per cent of young people without role models do not exercise regularly compared with 33 per cent of those with positive role models.

They are also more likely to feel anxious, 27 per cent doing so some or all of them time (compared with 18 per cent of those with role models) and less likely to feel happy – 57 per cent feeling happy rarely or sometimes compared with 37 per cent.

The recognition that male role models and mentors have a positive impact in boys lives is beginning to gain support.

In London, Chance UK has pioneered the recruitment of male mentors – a cause that has now been taken up by London mayor, Boris Johnson who has appointed a male mentoring champion.

Research into the impact of male mentoring by Chance UK has found that:

  • 98% of children mentored showed reductions in levels of behavioural difficulty
  • 51% of children mentored showed no behavioural difficulty at all by the end of the mentoring year

One of the areas where male mentors and role models are notably absent is education where the majority of staff at every stage of education are female and in some areas a third of schools have no male teachers.

There is increasing concern about the lack of male role models in primary school and in early years education with parents demanding more male childcare workers. Some writers – such as Melanie Phillips – have also added to the call for more men in schools a call to address the “feminisation of education” and that the view that schools fail boys by “denying the basic biology” that boys and girls are different

Other commentators have made a connection between the need for male role models and family breakdown with John Killeen, the East Riding branch secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers saying:

“With the numbers of single parent families, there is increasingly a need for a male role model for young people. A male teacher in primary school may be the only male figure young people have.”

Other outspoken voices on the subject include Paul Ainsworth who is a deputy head in Leicestershire who has written on the benefits to boy’s education of father involvement and male mentors and role models

In a recent article Paul wrote:

“We should be considering how we can develop the role of male role models and mentors within our schools, both for those boys who do not have a male role model at home and to act as additional role models as boys progress into their teenage years.”

In Spring 2010 the conference of the Association of Teachers and Lectures passed a motion calling for a delegation of public bodies, including the Trades Union Congress, to investigate the need for positive male role models for boys in education prompting reports in the media about working class boys being let down by lack of male role models.

This agenda has been driven by Ian Bonner and Stephen Waldron at ATL Chesire who proposed and seconded the motion at the ATL Spring Conference 2010:

Ian Bonner spoke of the poor average achievement of white working-class pupils and called for action on the issue. He said:

“[They are] one group of the school population for whom nothing has been done. They do not see education as relevant because they do not see people from their background making the news in a positive manner.

“The ordinary, honest working man can be a good role model. We want Conference to support anything and everything that raises the profile of the ‘ordinary working man’ in a positive way.”

Stephen Waldron (Warrington) seconded the motion, which was in three parts. The first asked ATL to support policies publicising the contribution made to society by men who support their families in a positive manner; the second called for other bodies, such as the TUC, to help this task; and the third called for support of any form of positive discrimination, or action, that improves the lot of white working-class boys.

Parts one and two were carried, part three was lost.

Locally in Brighton & Hove we are working with a student volunteer from CUPP o undertake a gender audit of mentoring in our city. Some initial research as provided strong evidence to show that while the majority of children needing mentoring are male, the majority of mentors are female. This is particularly notable in education where the overwhelming majority of excluded pupils are boys and the overwhelming majority of inclusion mentors are female.

Brighton & Hove is home to the excellent abandofbrothers that is delivering excellent reuslts with its transformative male mentoring programme. Also worthy of note is our committee member Kuen-Wah Cheung who has championed the involvement of men in early years education locally with his A Few Good Men initiative.

HOW THIS CONNECTS TO OUR WORK

EVERY MAN A MENTOR: We strongly believe that harnessing the power of dads and male mentors and role models could make a massive difference for both men and boys in Brighton & Hove and will be developing our work in this area throughout 2011.

IMPROVING MALE HEALTH: Mentors and role models can improve male health. The fact that young men without male role models are three times more likely to be depressed and less likely to exercise is an important finding. We also know that Government statistics show that boys and girls are more likely to be overweight if dad is overweight and that boys under 10 are also more likely to exercise if dad does according to national obesity statistics. Mentoring can also be good for the mentor with research showing that volunteering is good for your health and wellbeing.

SUPPORTING FATHERS: Through our Dads Connect project launching in 2011 we aim to make formal and informal mentoring and peer-to-peer support the norm for dads at all stages of fatherhood

HELPING BOYS DO BETTER: There is growing concern about the performance of boys in education and the lack of men in the system – while it my take years to get significantly more men in teaching, bringing more male volunteers and support staff into schools could make – particularly as mentors for boy – is one way we can make a difference in the shorter term.

Look out for our Get A Move On, Dads Connect, Every Man A Mentor and Reading For Boys campaigns in 2011 and if you are interested in volunteering to help men and boys in Brighton & Hove in 2011 email us at themensnetwork@hotmail.com today with Action Men in the subject line.

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About

Glen Poole is Director of the Helping Men consultancy, UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, host of the National Conference for Men and Boys and editor of the Good Men Project's International Men's Movement section. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at http://helpingmenblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Posted in NEWS, World News On Men's Issues
11 comments on “Lack of male role models causes depression
  1. [...] Network in Brighton Hove: Lack of male role models causes depression [...]

  2. [...] One union, The Association of Teachers and Lectures, did pass a motion calling for a delegation of public bodies, including the Trades Union Congress, to investigate the need for positive male role models for boys in education, at its Spring conference in 2010 – for details read our recent post on how a lack of male role models causes depression in boys. [...]

  3. [...] Recent reserach found that a lack of male role models causes depression in young men. [...]

  4. [...] findings echo recent research by the Prince’s Trust showing that young men without a male role model are three times more likely to be depressed and demonstrate once again that Dads Make A Difference to boys’ mental health and [...]

  5. [...] It seems the lack of male role models in families and communities is helping produce a lost generation of young men with worrying impacts with recent research showing that Fatherless boys are three times more likely to be suicidal and boys with a male role model are three times more likely to be depressed. [...]

  6. rob fallon says:

    It is with great relief and a big YES that the real need for men as part of the intrinsic fabric of the health of our children and our future is gaining the attention it deserves.

  7. Rex Brangwyn says:

    Fantastic article
    spread the word

    Rex

  8. [...] It seems the lack of male role models in families and communities is helping produce a lost generation of young men with worrying impacts with recent research showing that Fatherless boys are three times more likely to be suicidal and boys with a male role model are three times more likely to be depressed. [...]

  9. [...] * The lack of a male role model can cause depression [...]

  10. [...] research from The Prince’s Trust found that young men without a male role model are 3 times more likely to feel depressed – so becoming a male mentor can make a big difference to the lives of young men in our [...]

  11. The problem with our society that has long persisted, is that male purpose in life has always been tied to females…ie FAMILY..
    the reason men are lost is that, truly so, they are NOT NEEDED in families. this FACT MUST be accepted and only then can we redefine manliness… we MUST define a purpose for men that is INDEPENDENT of women..

    most FEMINISTS are stupid in that they don’t see beyond Misogyny .. they don’t UNDERSTAND or want to UNDERSTAND that there is a reason behind MISOGYNY, that it IS caused by something else and that MEN are NOT born with it…

    MEN have always needed women for family, and herein lies the seeds.. since they need women for FAMILY and hence for purpose, they NEEDED to control women to have a stable purpose.. if women could get up and leave with the child, they would lose their role,and hence we had institutionalized misogyny as marriage, religion etc..

    in order to find true independent MALE purpose and truly end MISOGYNY, we need to set right it’s origin..
    women have a sexual purpose in life independent of men—their womb gives them that purpose while men need to find women to get theirs..

    what MEN and society at large needs to do, is to find an HONORABLE, RESPECTABLE PURPOSE that is INDEPENDENT of women… only then will men be free and only then can we have a better definition of MANLINESS…and finally end all misogyny..

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