Menslink today released the results of their 2013 Silence is Deadly campaign evaluation which showed schools reporting an average increase of 133% in the numbers of young men seeking help for life issues and mental health problems.
Most young men don’t talk about their problems. Despite suffering similar rates of depression and anxiety as young women, they are three times less likely to seek help. Rates of help-seeking behaviour amongst young men aged 15-24 are as low as one in ten. Staying silent about their problems and issues can have devastating effects, with young men overwhelmingly represented in crime and suicide statistics across the country.
Menslink set out to address this issue with their Silence is Deadly campaign in 2013. Together with the Canberra Raiders, they visited nearly forty secondary schools, talking with over nine thousand students about problems in life and the importance of talking to mates, teachers, counsellors and youth workers. The message? “Don’t stay silent because silence is deadly.”
Menslink surveyed all schools participating in the campaign, including public, Catholic and independent schools across Canberra and Queanbeyan. The survey results show:
- The average increase in male students seeking help in each school was 133%, with some schools reporting a more than five-fold increase in helping seeking behaviour throughout the year;
- A number of schools reported incidences of self-harm or suicide ideation that were unknown to student services prior to the Silence is Deadly campaign. One school even reported increased reporting from female students as the campaign appeared to have a ripple-effect across the school community;
- Approximately three hundred extra students sought help over the year – young men who previously may have suffered in silence, with subsequent consequences for themselves, their schooling, their families and the community;
- 80-90% of schools highlighted that their male students were more likely or far more likely to seek help for themselves or a friend in the weeks after the campaign, with more than 70% stating students would still be more likely to seek help in the twelve months afterwards;
- 93% of schools thought the campaign had a significant or moderate improvement on attitudes of male students towards counselling.
Commenting on the impressive survey results, Menslink CEO Martin Fisk said the results showed the very real impact this campaign has had amongst young men in our community. “All too often we read in the newspapers what happens when young guys bottle up their feelings and problems. We believe there’s a correlation between young men bottling up their feelings and acting out in ways that may damage themselves or those around them. Our Silence is Deadly campaign appears to be having a clear impact on guys seeking help and talking about their problems – hopefully in time that will have a measurable impact on our community as well.”
Last year the campaign was funded with assistance from the Australian and ACT Governments under the ACT Youth Attainment and Transitions Strategic Funding Pool. Menslink is grateful to both ACT Policing and the Snow Foundation for providing short-term funding to continue the campaign in 2014, and is seeking long-term financial support from the ACT Government to continue this important campaign on an ongoing basis.
 Counting the Cost: The impact of young men’s mental health on the Australian economy, Inspire Foundation and Ernst & Young 2012