October 23 2015

Prevention Institute and the Movember Foundation kick off a major mental health initiative for men and boys this week with a gathering of delegates from 16 community sites across the U.S. The sites, awarded planning grants as part of a $2 million initiative, will develop prevention-oriented strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of males in high-need communities, such as veterans and men/boys of color.

“From a very young age, boys in the U.S. learn that they shouldn’t cry, they should be self-reliant, and they should tough out pain and hardship,” said Sheila Savannah, Prevention Institute’s director for Making Connections. “Being socialized this way encourages them to hamper emotional expression and discourages coping mechanisms such as asking for help when they may need it.  It’s time to develop broad, community-based strategies that support mental health and well-being among men and boys— particularly those in the greatest need.”

More than 225 communities across the country applied to be part of Making Connections. The 16 selected sites are gathering at Prevention Institute’s offices in Oakland, CA, October 21-23 for an inaugural meeting—the starting point for creating a robust community of practice aimed at improving males’ mental health and well-being.  Prevention Institute will provide technical assistance for the groups’ strategic planning processes, using an innovative approach that links social connection and mental health with community well-being and resilience. PI also will actively extend learnings and assistance to all sites who applied, as well as any other interested sites, through web forums, trainings, and publications.

Twelve of the selected communities will focus on supporting boys and men of color, including African-American, Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islander populations. Two sites will work with urban Native American and tribal communities, and two will develop strategies for reaching immigrant populations. A number of the sites have included military service members, veterans, and their families within their population of focus, with three focusing exclusively on this high-need population.

Selected sites span the country in urban, rural, and suburban locations. Specifically, they represent: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Florence, South Carolina; Canton, Connecticut; New Orleans, Louisiana; Honolulu, Hawaii; Tacoma, Washington; Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago and Kankakee, Illinois; Los Angeles, San Diego, and Stockton, California; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

“Making Connections is a critical initiative for supporting mental health as a key part of community health, prevention, and wellbeing,” said Niiobli Armah IV, Prevention Institute program manager for Making Connections. “We’re thrilled to be working with the Movember Foundation on this important work.”

For more information or to speak with Making Connections’ leaders, please contact Jessica Berthold, Prevention Institute’s Communications Manager, at Jessica@preventioninstitute.org or at 215-200-5358. You can also visit Prevention Institute’s web page on Making Connections.

The Prevention Institute is a grantee of The California Endowment.

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