Movember-funded U of M research on men’s mental health
So here we are in the (ahem) thick of Movember — and all those guys with newly sprouted ‘staches just may be contributing to important health sciences research. A case in point is the work being done by a team of researchers led by Corey Mackenzie, associate professor, psychology, Faculty of Arts, and Kerstin Roger, associate professor, family social sciences, Faculty of Human Ecology, and cross appointed with community health sciences, College of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences.
They are part of a Canada-wide network known as Masculinities and Men’s Depression and Suicide Network (MD&S-Net), which received a grant of $3 million from Movember Canada last year in order to develop and evaluate interventions for men’s mental health. Nearly $300,000 of those funds are being devoted to their local project here in Winnipeg.
The Manitoba team is working with Mensheds Manitoba, a program designed to give men a space to work on projects together, learn new skills and, most of all, to share their life experiences in a supportive and friendly atmosphere.
Founded in 2011 by Winnipegger Doug Mackie, Mensheds Manitoba works with men — especially older men and widowers — who are at risk of suffering from isolation, loneliness and depression, especially after they retire. This risk might be heightened because of a current lack of specific community programs that allow older men to be productive and contribute to the community, which is key to supporting good health.
The U of M team is evaluating and extending the Men’s Sheds program in Canada — in particular, expanding the Canadian Men’s Sheds community programs by developing a toolkit for groups of men who wish to start a Men’s Shed, and also creating an online national Men’s Shed network.
Co-investigator Corey MacKenzie says: “Suicide is a significant issue, and men who experience severe depression are known to have a greatly increased risk for suicide. The Men’s Depression & Suicide Network (MD&S-Net) is dedicated to finding ways to push back.”
His partner in the research, Kerstin Roger, notes: “We are taking what we learn to expand on existing examples of Men’s Sheds, in a way that will serve a broader range of older men across Canada, and very much in line with healthy aging.”
This research is in collaboration with Mensheds Manitoba members and older men in the Winnipeg community.
Focus group feedback and community consultations with older men throughout year one of the project will be incorporated into the development of the toolkit for starting Men’s Sheds in Canada. The toolkit will be further refined in year two by pilot-testing it with men across Canada who are in the process of starting a new Men’s Shed. Year three will see the final online toolkit and national Men’s Shed network website fully developed, with research activities to be completed by November 2016.