“It’s made me feel less isolated because there are other people who are experiencing the same or very similar to you”: Men’s experiences of using mental health support groups

Alex Y Vickery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
203 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article explores men’s experiences of using peer support groups for coping with mental distress. Support groups are organised groups in which people come together to mutually support each other with a shared health concern. There has been increasing research on men’s mental health help seeking, but men’s use of support groups for mental health difficulties, and the ways support groups could benefit men, is not well understood. Drawing upon 19 interviews from a South Wales, UK qualitative study which explored men’s mental health help seeking, coping and management, this article explores the perceived benefits of support groups for men experiencing emotional difficulties. Findings highlight how men who attended groups valued the sense of shared understanding of experiences and the mutual respect that group settings presented them with. Support groups provided a safe space with opportunities to reconstruct traditional masculine norms through reciprocating unique and tailored mental health support to others and developing a certain role within that group. This gave men a sense of purpose which further facilitated mental health management. Findings also indicated the social benefits that support groups can have to men who may have limited social networks or be experiencing isolation. This article adds to the growing literature that focuses on men’s mental health experiences and illustrates the benefits of support groups for men in distress. The author suggests that primary services need to be aware of how support groups can positively support men and promote them as an opportunity for connection and unique support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2383-2391
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Volume30
Issue number6
Early online date16 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by Cardiff University’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences 1+3 doctoral scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Health and Social Care in the Community published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Structured keywords

  • SPS Centre for Research in Health and Social Care

Keywords

  • mental health
  • men's mental health
  • peer support
  • support group
  • help-seeking
  • distress
  • masculinity

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