- This article evaluates ‘Check-Mate’ – a tool designed to assist the creation of gender-sensitive mental health programs for men
- The tool includes five key approaches with actions listed for each approach and is designed to be helpful at every programming stag
- ‘Check-Mate was found to be useful, practical, and applicable to multiple settings’
- More research is needed to build the evidence base
The tool was developed when Movember Foundation, an NGO supporting men’s health initiative, launched a Social Innovators Challenge (SIC). Participants proposed projects to support male mental health, which prior literature suggests is drastically under-supported. The tool includes five key approaches with actions listed for each approach and is designed to be helpful at every programming stage, with researchers encouraged to provide further recommendations to improve the tool where relevant.
According to qualitative data collected by 10 SIC participants, Check-Mate was found to be useful, practical, and applicable to multiple settings. This article proposes further research and action to ensure the tool does not reinforce masculine ideals, is able to demonstrate concrete examples of implementation, and explicitly acknowledges the complexity of men’s mental health. Overall, Check-Mate shows great potential to benefit male mental health programs to ensure they are gender-sensitive.
The tool includes five key approaches with actions listed for each approach. The approaches include:
1. Creating a male-friendly space
2. Basing the program on activities that are appealing to men
3. Using masculine ideals to increase the well-being of men and their families
4. Considering aspects of men’s identities other than gender
5. Encouraging independence and participation”
Since no one size fits all for male-friendly programming, the approaches in the tool enable creative freedom in putting them into action.
Thus it must be acknowledged that the tool’s approaches are flexible and adaptable to a range of settings and contexts. The tool provides a set of guiding principles, not a prescriptive list.
The tool was used effectively in a variety of project settings, with diverse groups of males, across Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, proving it may be transferable to other male mental health promotion initiatives, and potentially to men’s health promotion programming more broadly.
Gender transformative approaches to programming aim to promote healthy masculinities, challenge hegemonic masculinities, promote gender equality, and highlight intersections of masculinity with other aspects of social identity. While using masculine ideals to increase the well-being of men and their families is one of the tool’s approaches, it’s important to note transformative language should be more carefully reflected in the tool’s approaches to ensure it does not inadvertently reinforce hegemonic masculine ideals
Further research is needed to build the evidence base for the effectiveness of this tool. In particular, validating the tool in alternative health promotion programming contexts is needed. What’s more, further research should be undertaken that explores the relationship between the approaches listed in the tool and program outcomes.
- Laura L. Struik, Joan L. Bottorff- School of Nursing, UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, BC, Canada
- Aneta Abramowicz, Barbara Riley, Lisa D. Stockton- Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada
- John L. Oliffe- School of Nursing, UBC Vancouver, Vancouver, BC, Canada