Settlement Services International (SSI) will take part in a world-first research project involving thousands of men that aims to end the embarrassment that stops them from getting help for conditions such as depression and anxiety.
The project is funded by beyondblue with donations from The Movember Foundation and was unveiled this month to coincide with Men's Health Week, June 15 to 21.
The STRIDE (Stigma Reduction Interventions: Digital Environments) project is comprised of six smaller projects that focus on refugees, former Australian rules footballers and fly-in-fly-out workers. The UNSW Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program has partnered with SSI and Black Dog Institute on one of the projects, called Tell Your Story, which will develop an online education program for refugees to address the stigma of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
All six projects will use technology, such as apps and websites, along with evidence-based techniques to show men that taking action on mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the project was a great initiative that targeted groups of men who were too often overlooked by support services.
“Men coming to Australia from the experiences of being refugees fleeing war and conflict zones or persecution and discrimination go through a spectrum of emotions and states of wellbeing while adjusting to settlement,” Ms Roumeliotis said. “This project’s focus on stigma is a very positive step towards greater support that will help these men reach their potential in Australia.”
beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman said STRIDE was a response to the shocking number of men, from all social demographics, who die by suicide in Australia each year, which is almost double the number who die on Australia’s roads.
"Nearly 2000 men die by suicide each year, with men three times more likely to die this way than women," she said. "This is a national tragedy and is fuelled by the fact that men don’t seek help for mental health problems as much as women because they don’t want to be seen as weak or as a burden on others.
“In recent years there have been increases in awareness about depression and anxiety but we now need to focus on using digital tools to reduce the stigma that prevents men from seeking support and keeps the suicide rate high. I have no doubt this project will save men’s lives, while teaching us the best ways to reduce the stigma of mental health conditions among men.”
The Movember Foundation’s Executive Director of Programs, Paul Villanti, said STRIDE’s scope meant it would include a wide range of at-risk men.
“Each of these six projects will drive men within the target communities to confront any negative or stigmatising attitudes they hold about mental health conditions,” he said. “Stigmatising beliefs can be the biggest barriers to men getting help but STRIDE will aim to remove these barriers and save lives.
"In the Tell Your Story project, 600 refugees with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will hear stories in their first language, from fellow refugees with PTSD who have sought support. Participating men will learn why their fellow refugees sought help and how it made them feel better. The program will challenge common myths, support men to reach out for assistance and to tell their own story.”
More detailed information can be found here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/stigma
The six projects that comprise STRIDE are:
Title: Y Fronts
Partners: CGA Consulting, Indigenist Consulting, Sydney University, Terem Technologies, Led By Design, Mr David McGrath
What it is: An app for regional and rural workers including fly-in fly-our workers
Title: Tell Your Story
Partners: UNSW Refugee Trauma and Recovery Program, Settlement Services International, Black Dog Institute
What it is: An online education program for refugees
Title: The Ripple Effect
Partners: Deakin University, National Centre for Farmer Health, Victorian Farmers Federation, AgChatOz, Mental Health Fellowship North Queensland, Western District Health Service, SandPIT
What it is: An online education program for farmers affected by suicide
Title: Contact & Connect
Partners: Incolink, McCaughey VicHealth Centre for Community Wellbeing, Deakin University, Publicity Works
What it is: An education program for unemployed construction workers delivered by SMS which is linked to a website
Title: Real Courage Partners: AFL Player’s Association, La Trobe University, Mates In Construction, AFL Coaches Association, Keepers
What it is: An online education program for past AFL players, past coaches and construction workers
Title: Out of the Blue
Partners: Victorian AIDS Council, Centre for Social Research in Health, ACON Health, Gay & Married Men Association, Living Positive Victoria, Liquorice
What it is: Dedicated websites for both men living with HIV and for gay men in heterosexual relationships.