Mens health and wellbeing takes next step thanks to EU funding
Men are on average 20% less likely to seek prompt medical help when they need it than women, and rates of suicide and depression are increasing across Europe.
Now, an innovative cross-border project, Step By Step (SBS) has been granted European Union funding to help address the issue in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and is being delivered in Kent by Kent County Council in partnership with Wellbeing People.
The project is worth €4,356,677, with €2,614,006 coming from the European Regional Development Fund’s Interreg V 2 Seas programme. The rest will be match-funded by project partners in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The partners have established that there’s a clear demand for community activities aimed at improving men’s health and wellbeing and reducing social isolation, as well as for skills transfer between generations, to bring more people into the labour market, reducing unemployment (rates of which are higher than the national average in most of the partners’ areas).
SBS’s target group is specifically male, notably socially isolated men, and those with poor mental health or wellbeing – although women will be welcome to use the new services the project will provide. Men will be empowered to participate in the social life of their communities, and to engage actively with the labour market, so they can make sustainable, positive changes in their lives, benefitting themselves and their communities.
The project believes this will lead to healthier individuals, causing a reduction in the costs of treating physical and mental health, and to those healthier individuals being able to play an active role in the labour market, reducing the number of days lost to ill health.
Partners will work together to develop a model for workshops or community spaces where men will meet to learn skills and engage in other activities to improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing – and then to implement this model through 94 workshops across the cross-border area. Participants in these workshops will also be trained to be champions for this new approach, as well as in soft skills (including interviewing, empowerment). Creative uses of technology will also be developed, to engage with men who prefer not to talk directly about health or unemployment, but may open up in the context of doing something practical or competitive.
Josh Stroud, Project Manager at Wellbeing People, said: “Step By Step will make real difference to men in our area; be they socially isolated, or in poor mental or physical health. The approaches the project will develop, through the workshops – include social engagement, skills development and confidence-building – will not only benefit them, but also the wider community. We believe the SBS model will be highly transferable, in this country and beyond, and will empower individuals to re-engage with society and employment.”
The project aims to engage 6000 men across its four-year lifecycle, with 600 of them going on to gain employment, saving public services over €7m. In the regions of the countries involved in the project, the increase in engagement and dialogue should reduce suicide rates by 7% and led to 10% fewer hospital admissions in the target group, saving a further €63k per year.
Justine Clarabut, Events and Marketing Manager, Wellbeing People
Tel: 01622 834832 Email: Justine.email@example.com