BU mental health researchers asking men to share their experiences

February 15, 2019

BRANDON – Researchers at Brandon University (BU) have launched a new project to study the stress experienced by men in the Westman region.

The two-year case study, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, seeks to address growing mental health concerns in the Prairie provinces. Rates of completed suicide on the Prairies are the highest in Canada outside the Territorial North and are higher among men than women.

Head and shoulders photo of a woman smiling for the camera in front of a stone building

Dr. Rachel Herron

“We have seen significant efforts to increase awareness of men’s health issues in Canada,” said project lead Rachel Herron. “Initiatives such as the recent Let’s Talk campaign and Movember have helped to bring mental health and wellness into the public eye, but we also need to understand the challenges and stress men face in the region to provide better support to them and their families. We need to know what is getting in the way of their health.”

The research team is looking for men across the Westman region to participate in small group discussions or share their story one-on-one. Anyone interested in participating in the project can contact Herron at 204-727-9771 or at HerronR@BrandonU.ca.

Herron, who is the Canada Research Chair in Rural and Remote Mental Health and a member of BU’s Department of Geography, is joined on the research team by Jonathan Allan (Gender and Women’s Studies, BU), Candice Waddell (Department of Psychiatric Nursing, BU) and Kerstin Roger (Department of Community Health Science, University of Manitoba). They are working with a wide group of community partners to reach a diverse group of participants and expand current understandings of men’s mental health in the region. They hope the information collected will help to improve policy and programs in the area.

Across Canada, men report lower levels of stress and depression and yet they have much higher rates of suicide than women. In general, men are less likely to talk about, and seek support for, their mental health needs than women and this is particularly the case in rural Canada. Addressing this issue requires a better understanding of how and where men experience stress, how they cope, and how they can express their mental health challenges.