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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org today with Action Men in the subject line.