This is one of the defining questions of our time. The very reason we need to find a different way of being men is that we are not doing very well at all!

What’s on our minds?
When I work with boys and men, there are six key areas that I regularly deal with:
• Attachment Issues
• Behavioural issues
• Impulse Control Issues
• Body Image Issues
• Identity Issues
• Relationship Issues
These difficulties present in a variety of ways and are due to factors including:
• How men have been raised
• Changes in roles and expectations
• Changes in life expectancy
• Lack of awareness and understanding of the issues men face
• Men don’t easily discuss their health and feelings
• Men are reluctant to take action when they feel physically or mentally unwell
• Men engage in risky activities that threaten their health
• Men experience a significant stigma around mental health

Young Men are in crisis
The 2013 Young and Well National Survey suggests we are especially failing young men:
• The levels of drug and alcohol use/abuse amongst young men has increased and is being sustained over longer periods
• In the past year, 20% of young men have felt that life is hardly worth living
• 10% of young men have thought about taking their own life
• 42% of young men are experiencing psychological distress
• Unemployment and moderate to very high levels of psychological distress lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviour
• Men are three times more likely to commit suicide than women

A study of 4,500 year 7 to 12 students (including girls), revealed that 30% of boys felt constantly under strain and unable to overcome difficulties. Over half had low levels of resilience and, of those, 43% felt violence was an appropriate way to solve relationship issues.
A third were drinking at dangerous levels, and one in four lacked the confidence to say no to unwanted sexual experiences. 16 % feel it necessary to carry a weapon. One in 10 of the students from schools surveyed had gambled in the past year. Many young men lack the basic skills of impulse control, conflict resolution and relationship building needed to help them cope with modern life.

Most men are stuck – not sick
Importantly, the issues confronting boys and men are not illnesses or disorders. As a psychologist I do not deal in illness. I do deal with disorders – and some boys and men have them. However, my focus is on how a person feels, thinks and behaves within their given social context.
A disease or illness is about the brain and not of the mind. But when we speak of the problems of the mind we are talking about the mental activity of that brain. This distinction is very important. It lays the foundation for why men are in crisis into the context of an existential crisis. It is that moment when we question the very nature of our being and the purpose and meaning our existence. This is what most boys (yes boys), and men frequently struggle with. The result is psychological distress (that may be amplified by a disorder).

We need a new understanding of what it means to be a man
I want to make this point very clear. What ails men is not simply a psychological disorder or mental illness. It is the psychological distress that arises from holding onto a philosophical point of view that no longer works.
The bottom line is that we are physically less healthy than we could be. We are psychologically less flexible and resilient, we are socially more misaligned and we lack a strong sense of purpose, meaning and intention for our lives as a whole.
We are surviving… but most certainly not THRIVING.

Another Making Good Men Great Mentoring Group is being set up. Interested? For more information please call Rebecca on 02 9999 0429 or email