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UBC researchers launch new website focused on men's mental health

Site and podcast series explore importance of strengthening male friendships
UBC researchers have launched a new podcast and website called InGoodCompany that provides men with mental health support and advice.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have launched a new website devoted to men's mental health, with the hope that it helps guys to connect with each other and build out support networks. 

John Oliffe, a registered nurse and the founder and lead of UBC’s Men’s Health Research program, has been exploring the unique barriers men face in accessing mental health supports since 2005. At the beginning of his research, Oliffe says he was mostly interested in the clinical side of things. 

Why, he asked, are men four times more likely to die by suicide than women when they are diagnosed with depression at about half the rate?

Part of the answer, Oliffe found, lies in how depression is screened for. He said it is common for men who are going through a difficult time to be more irritable, angry or impulsive and to lean on drinking and substance use. These aren't symptoms clinicians typically check for though, Oliffe said, so many men go undiagnosed and untreated. 

Creating change on that front is important, but more recently Oliffe has refocused some of his attention towards implementing more preventative measures. The launch of his program's website, InGoodCompany, is an effort to get men talking about mental health with their friends and make sure they have supports in place before they reach a crisis point. 

The site displays anecdotes from men from across Canada who shared their thoughts on mental health and connection with the UBC researchers. It also offers tips on building stronger connections with friends, knowing how and when to check in with them and being able to ask for help.  

“We're really trying to say to guys, ‘We all struggle with connecting. Here's some ideas about what you might want to provide your mate, and here's some ideas about what you might be able to ask for.'"

Oliffe said there are three main trends he sees in men that often prevent them from addressing mental health challenges. These include denying that they have been hurt by something, depending only on themselves to get through something difficult and choosing not to form truly meaningful connections with friends. 

Much of this stems from societal pressures to be strong, stoic and self-reliant, Oliffe said. Some of that pressure has been easing in the two decades since he began his mental health research, but Oliffe said there is still more work to be done. 

He said he hopes the website offers an affirmation to men that they aren't alone in the challenges they are facing and provides them with some strategies for moving forward. 


About the Author: Jane Skrypnek

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media.
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