A new year brings with it new beginnings and we are delighted to announce the launch of Men Minds.
Men Minds is focused on three groups of young men, aged 16-24, who might find themselves marginalised in society: young men in conflict with the law; young men who are migrants and young men who identify as LGBTQ+. These groups were chosen because they are likely to face additional adversities and challenges to their mental health. At the same time they are more likely to encounter significant barriers to accessing services, and participating in research. Men Minds wants to change that.
Funded by the UKRI, Men Minds is an international collaborative research project. Coproduction is key; a Young People’s Forum, made up of 12 young men who are migrants, LGBTQ+ or in conflict with the law will work with academics from the University of Strathclyde, the University of Dundee and the University of Monash to explore masculinities, mental health, wellbeing and help-seeking.
The two-year study’s aims include:
- increasing understanding of how marginalised adolescents can be effectively engaged in co-producing research
- co-producing more accessible research methods for adolescent young men
- co-producing new knowledge and redefining concepts relating to adolescent marginalised masculinities, help-seeking, wellbeing and mental health
- engaging with a wide range of non-academic partners to ensure that policy and practice change leads to long-lasting real-world impact.
CYCJ’s Dr Nina Vaswani, the project’s Principal Investigator, explains why this research is so important:
“Mental health is one of the main challenges that marginalised young men face but their mental health is less well understood because of the barriers they face to participating in research. There can also be barriers to service provision, which may not be culturally designed to meet their needs.
“We’re aiming to work with young men to increase knowledge about what are suitable research methods and suitable interventions for them. It’s about creating an environment in which we can explore these ideas, to make information more inclusive and to support young men to lead on developing better research.
“The knowledge that we will gain from having more accessible research methods will also feed into service provision, practice and policy. Our non-academic partners will help with translating this new knowledge into tangible change for young men.”
The project is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), all of which are part of UKRI (UK Research and Innovation).
Read Dr Nina Vaswani’s full introduction to the project here: New Year, New Project — Men Minds
Iain Corbett is about to join CYCJ as a Participation Advisor and he has previously been a member of our Executive Governance Group. A passionate youth and community engagement worker, Iain draws upon his lived experience of the justice system as a young man to help others understand the issues involved. His journey demonstrates how traumatic experiences at an early age can lead to young men coming into conflict with the law, and points to the need for mental health strategies and outlets as a means for moving forward with one’s life:
“I grew up in a low-income family and in my teens, I had three family bereavements in quick succession, and it really affected my mental health. I don’t see it as an excuse but after this happened, my behaviour began to spiral. I ended up with some convictions for minor offences but after my first conviction, I found I didn’t really care about the others I got. I knew that what I was doing wasn’t right but I didn’t think about any repercussions.
“It was a difficult time, I could see my peers around me were also struggling. I had friends who died, through suicide and through drink-driving, while others went to prison. I knew I couldn’t go on like this and started to guide myself away, not from the people but to disengage from that behaviour. I looked at friends and peers who weren’t actively involved in this and at how they were going through life.
“I started to apply for a lot of jobs but got nowhere. It was frustrating to get knocked back but I took any work I could get, some of it voluntary or unpaid – I did some labouring and worked in a bakery. My parents were desperate for me to get involved in something but I wasn’t interested in football or youth clubs – then I got into youth theatre, which I found a real, cathartic release.
“That was 15 years ago and I’ve been able to put all that behind me. I’ve always tried to extract learning from any situation I’m in but I also feel lucky that I had these opportunities and support to improve my situation and my mental health.
“I would advise young people in the situation I was once in to take ownership of their situation and put their experiences into context. But there is always someone who you can talk to or go to for help – don’t be afraid to ask.”