Narrow definitions of masculinity and social, economic, and physical conditions in our communities create barriers to men's and boys' mental wellbeing. Boys and men of color, military service members, and veterans face high levels of trauma, disconnection, and social isolation that can lead to mental distress and even suicide.
Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys is a national initiative to transform community conditions that influence mental wellbeing. Together with the Movember Foundation, Prevention Institute works with 13 communities across the U.S. to shift policies, practices, and norms to create greater opportunities for health and resilience. Populations of focus include men and boys of color, veterans, military members, and their families. The thirteen sites in rural, urban, and suburban locations across the U.S. focus on improving social connections, economic and educational opportunities and assets, and the physical environment.
The Movember Foundation funds the work, Prevention Institute provides coordination, training, and technical assistance, and a team from the University of South Florida evaluates progress and outcomes.
Making Connections communities:
- Reframe concepts of mental health to include wellbeing and resilience;
- Shift the focus upstream to emphasize mental health strategies that promote prevention and resilience as a complement to treatment and services;
- Expand approaches to address community conditions that influence mental health and wellbeing in addition to those that focus on individuals; and
- Integrate gender- and culture- informed strategies that meet men and boys where they are, and that recognize and embrace a broad range of positive masculine qualities.
This initiative builds on a detailed landscape report, Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S. The report, developed by Prevention Institute for the Movember Foundation, found that while narrow definitions of masculinity and social, economic, and physical conditions in our communities present challenges for men's and boys' mental wellbeing, there is strong evidence that a range of community-based prevention and early intervention strategies offer considerable promise for addressing these challenges.
"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 coalitions are implementing community-level prevention strategies that reflect their communities' priorities and strengths and draw on indigenous knowlege and customs. 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.
"What we have continuously relearned...is how important relationships are, and how important both peer and intergenerational relationships are." - Making Connections community partner
At the center of the Making Connections initiative is the community of practice among sites and initiative partners. Our multi-site learning community shares technical assistance, 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 the community of grantees, philanthropic, and organizational partners committed to using community-level strategies to promote resilience and improve mental health across generations of boys and men.
This initiative was catalyzed by a generous investment from the Movember Foundation, the only global charity focused solely on men’s health, 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 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.
Making Connections Profiles: Communities in Action
Growing Resilience Among Past, Present, and Future Military Members in Rural Connecticut
Uplifting the Voices of Youth in Albuquerque, New Mexico
Addressing gang culture and violence in Los Angeles
Reducing mental health disparities experienced by American Indian males
Elevating community wellbeing for East African men and boys in San Diego
Building on Community Strengths in South Carolina
Making Connections Podcasts
Elevating Indigenous Wisdom
Engaging Youth Leaders
Preventing Suicide Among American Indian Youth
Military Cultural Competence
Preventing and Addressing Community Trauma
Making Connections Videos
Our partners in Los Angeles, Community Intelligence and Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, created this two-minute video with RISE Design Lab.
In this short video, Making Connections partners share why it is important to focus on men and boys.
Making Connections sites share strategies for Development Without Displacement.
Synthesis: Making Connections 2017 Convening - Partners continue to build synergy and momentum, further exploring intersecting interests and opportunities to leverage talent and knowledge across the Community of Practice. Click here to learn more.
Synthesis: Making Connections December 2016 Convening - A summary of the December 2016 gathering of the Making Connections community of practice, including podcasts and videos. Click here for an overview.
Making Connections in Brief: A 4-page overview of the initiative.
Landscape Report: Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S. -This 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. Read the report in its entirety here. Read the executive summary here.
Webinar: Making Connections Initiative - In 2015, Prevention Institute and the Movember Foundation hosted a 90-minute webinar to provide more information and guidance to potential applicants for funding from the Making Connections Initiative. Click here to view.
More PI strategies, tools, and resources are available on our Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing page.