A study conducted by researchers at University of Canberra’s Centre for Applied Psychology has found significant long term benefits arising from young men’s engagement with Menslink’s free counselling and mentoring services.
The study showed that not only did young men’s lives and relationships improve while they received support from Menslink, they continued to improve in the years afterwards, highlighting the benefits of early intervention in areas such as mental health and family violence. The study highlighted significant early improvements in both life satisfaction and relationship satisfaction (reported by both clients and carers), with young men continuing to improve after they’d ceased getting support (on average two and a half years earlier).
This study shows long lasting benefits over many years from a very modest investment in young men’s lives, given Menslink’s average cost to support a young man through troubled times is only $1,200.
Lead researcher, Dr James Neill from UC, stated that “impressive short-term benefits were not only maintained, but continued to improve during the follow-up period. This ongoing improvement is notable because, more commonly, immediate gains from brief interventions tend to dissipate in the longer-term. So, the evidence indicating that Menslink participants experience post-intervention growth, on top of very substantial short-term benefits, is particularly noteworthy. It appears that young guys engaged with Menslink become sufficiently empowered to make ongoing positive changes, independently, in their own lives.”
Menslink CEO, Martin Fisk, stressed how important these findings were for the community. “Our goal in supporting these young men is to give them a hand up, not a hand out. Provide early intervention supports that are there when the young guy needs it – at no cost and no fuss. Then provide them with the skills and techniques that they can continue to use in their lives as they develop into independent adults.”
In commissioning the original research, he said “we knew we were having a positive impact while we were supporting the young guys. What we didn’t know is what happened after they stopped seeing their counsellor or their mentor. For this study to show that our young guys continue to improve is amazing. It shows the impact we’re having and the very tangible benefits of investing in effective early intervention – both by government and all the businesses and donors that support our work.”
Chair of the Menslink Board, Michael Battenally, considers the research outcomes as a significant recognition of the high value of the ongoing investment by the ACT government and community. “The capacity of Menslink to readily engage with young guys has always been a strength” he said. “To now see the long term benefits to the young guy and his family affirmed by independent research is fantastic. Menslink will leverage this evidence in its strategic planning and build on the strength-based approaches we already take.”
In conducting the study, University of Canberra researchers interviewed former clients and carers (mostly single mums) and assessed their life satisfaction and relationship satisfaction immediately prior to, and after seeking support, and at follow-up (on average 2.5 years later). The study found that positive long-term changes in life satisfaction were reported for 94% of Menslink participants, with no reports of deterioration in life satisfaction despite the often very challenging circumstances faced by the young guys. The effects on relationship satisfaction were positive, but more nuanced: relationships improved for 79% of participants in the short-term, and for 52% in the long-term.
The report concludes with a quote from an indigenous mother, who highlights the impact that Menslink has had:
“From a mother’s perspective, from a family point of view, from the bottom of my heart, there are no words to describe how grateful I am. I am close to tears. The difference that Menslink made to my son’s life is a game changer. Honest to god, this one person you work with will have a ripple effect on people in my family and that all comes down to Menslink. And I cannot thank them enough. I will be grateful for these guys until the day I die.”
A full copy of the report is available here
Our CEO, Martin Fisk and Dr James Neill had the opportunity of speaking with ABC Radio’s Adam Shirley about the study, listen to their interview linked below