Narrow definitions of masculinity and social, economic, and physical conditions in our communities present challenges for men's and boys' mental wellbeing in the U.S. Too often our young men and boys experience premature death, including death by suicide, among other causes.
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. The 13 sites in rural, urban, and suburban locations focus on improving social connections, economic and educational opportunities and assets, and the physical environment.
Making Connections focuses on veterans, young men, and boys of color.
- Veterans and military service members are nearly twice as likely to take their own lives as non-veterans.
- Boys and men of color are more likely to experience poor mental health due to multi-generational trauma, higher exposure to poverty, and higher rates of incarceration.
Making Connections sites’ programs have been developed in collaboration with men and adopt male-friendly approaches and preferences for engagement and delivery. The sites implement community-level prevention strategies that reflect their communities' priorities and strengths and draw on indigenous knowledge and customs.
Sites are also working to deconstruct unhealthy norms about what it means to be a man—things like being discouraged from expressing emotions and feeling stressed for failing to meet certain expectations—and develop programs and policies that instill healthier norms like social connection, civic engagement, and equitable relationships.
Making Connections shows that community-based approaches to improving the mental health and wellbeing can make a difference that goes beyond individuals to affect entire communities.
The Making Connections initiative is made possible by funding 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.
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. Making Connections grew out of the landscape report Making Connections for Mental Health and Wellbeing Among Men and Boys in the U.S. by Prevention Institute.
The three Prevention Institute tools related to community-level prevention strategies and community determinants of health listed below also shaped this initiative.
THRIVE (Tool for Health & Resilience in Vulnerable Environments) is a framework for understanding the root causes of health inequities.
Making Connections coalitions used THRIVE to strategize how they would improve mental wellbeing by focusing on specific community determinants of health like housing and education.
The Spectrum of Prevention is a tool that identifies the different ways of advancing primary prevention (addressing a problem before it occurs). Making Connections coalitions used the Spectrum of Prevention to create comprehensive strategic plans for addressing the root causes of mental health inequities in their communities.
The Adverse Community Experiences and Resilience framework helps communities to understand the relationship between community trauma and wellbeing. Making Connections coalitions used the framework to elevate trauma-informed strategies that strengthen their communities’ resilience while focusing on undoing structural violence.
Making Connections Profiles: Communities in Action
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Florence, South Carolina
New Orleans, Louisiana
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
San Diego, California
Making Connections Podcasts
Making Connections: Exploring Healthy Masculinities with Community Leaders (pt 2)
Making Connections: Exploring Healthy Masculinities with Community Leaders (pt 1)
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.