The Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing initiative is designed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of men and boys in the U.S. This initiative, funded by the Movember Foundation, builds on a detailed landscape report, Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S.
A number of the resulting themes from the report have shaped the initiative, including:
- Prevention programs are effective but they are not at scale to maximize community-level impact;
- Indigenous and lay people approaches are emerging that support healing and mental wellbeing;
- Resilience is a critical protective factor for mental wellbeing;
- The need to focus specifically on men and boys' mental health is emerging; and
- Population-level prevention strategies are not well developed despite the analysis that underlying community-level conditions are a part of the problem.
In its initial stages, the Making Connections initiative is focused on fostering a learning community among funded sites, which will be funded to develop and implement actionable, community-level prevention plans to improve mental health. Equally, Making Connections is focused on advancing prevention approaches across the country, changing the discourse about the mental wellbeing of men and boys. Through rigorous evaluation and sharing of lessons learned along the way, this initiative will inform policymakers, funders, practitioners, and communities about the value of community-level approaches in support of improving mental health outcomes.
This initiative has been catalyzed by a generous investment from the Movember Foundation as part of its global commitment to improving mental health for boys and men. The Foundation is supporting Prevention Institute as its lead coordinating organization for its U.S. - based mental health work, funding an initial set of 8-10 community sites, evaluation and dissemination of findings and learnings. To fully realize the initiative's ambitious goals, Prevention Institute and the Movember Foundation welcome other partners to support additional sites, supplement selected sites, or--for example--to support a national network committed to advancing this work. By leveraging efforts with aligned initiatives for the development and dissemination of additional tools, materials and policy briefs, we can advance a paradigm shift in how we support improved mental health outcomes for men and boys.
The need to focus specifically on men and boys' mental health is emerging. Too often, male socialization is at odds with mental wellbeing, isolating men from their families and discouraging expression of needs or emotions. The initiative will initially prioritize those who have a particularly high need for community-level attention to mental wellbeing, such as military/veteran communities and families, and boys and men of color and their families.
At the center of the Making Connections initiative is a community of practice among sites and initiative partners who participate in technical assistance and work to develop capacity at the community level and toward achieving mental health improvement. Our multi-site learning community employs individual and collective evaluation, and openly shares challenges, results, and outcomes. Together, the organizations participating in this initiative will strengthen and evaluate ways to enact positive change in communities - beginning with men and boys. Prevention Institute provides ongoing guidance, strategy development and management of a multi-site learning community of grantees, philanthropic and organizational partners who are committed to promoting resilience and improved mental health across generations of boys and men through community-level strategies.
"Feeling connected and feeling (a sense of) belonging to community, trust in the community, in the leadership-these give people a sense of greater wellbeing. These are the preventive factors that enable people to better change the sources of stress or change one's reactions to stressful situations."
-Interviewee from Making Connections Landscape Report
- Making Connections Initiative Funding Announcement
Prevention Institute (PI) and the Movember Foundation have released a funding announcement for the purpose of selecting 8-10 sites for the Making Connections for Mental Wellbeing Initiative. The two-part selection process includes submitting a letter of intent which will be used to invite applicants. Successful applicants will receive awards of up to $150,000 for a one-year planning period, during which community sites will participate in a learning community and receive technical assistance to support development of an actionable prevention plan. Selected sites that successfully complete the planning process will be eligible for implementation funding for a period of 2-4 years.
- Making Connections Initiative Webinar
Prevention Institute and the Movember Foundation hosted a 90-minute webinar on May 28th to provide more information and guidance to potential applicants for funding from the Making Connections Initiative. The webinar discussed applicant eligibility and requirements; explained in greater detail what is meant by "community-level strategies to promote mental health and well-being"; and answered questions regarding the application process. Click here to access the webinar slides (PDF) and audio recording.
Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S.
This landscape report developed by PI for the Movember Foundation details the current state of mental health for American men and boys, and discusses societal challenges and opportunities for healing. Specifically, the report emphasizes community-level strategies that underscore the importance of mental health and its link with community wellbeing and resilience. Across the interviews and the reports reviewed, consistent themes, trends, and challenges to men and boys emerged, including that:
- American society produces anxiety and is full of risk and stressors.
- Disconnection and isolation-from community, peers, family, children and culture-are major factors that undermine men's mental health.
- Trauma and its associated symptoms of mental and psychological illness are more prevalent in the U.S. than in most other countries around the world.
- Boys and men of color are disproportionately impacted by trauma in the U.S., and this has far-reaching implications.
- Military service members, veterans, and their families experience trauma and its effects at a disproportionate rate.
- Resilience is a critical protective factor for mental well-being.
The report concluded that while current prevention programs are effective, they are not at scale; many population-level prevention strategies are not well developed. Indigenous and lay-people approaches are emerging that support healing and mental wellbeing, and these should be elevated and bolstered.