Mental health problems affect approximately 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and self-harm, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives. Young men in the UK face specific challenges. Suicide rates continue to be high amongst men under 35 and we know that many services are struggling to identify and engage effectively with young men in order for them to access the support they need.
There is a persistent gap between the attitudes of men and women, with men consistently showing less positive attitudes about mental health and a reluctance to speak out and seek help. Stigma and gender stereotypes remain key barriers to young men seeking support. Those that do are often discouraged by formal or clinical-environments and may be put off by traditional ‘talking therapy’ approaches. There is a need to invest in more services that take a ‘male positive’ approach to ensure the needs of young men are met.
We are launching a £1.75 million fund to support vulnerable and disadvantaged young men with mental health problems. We are seeking proposals to deliver specialised mental health provision which puts the needs of young men at the heart of their work. We are especially interested in funding organisations that test out different approaches to engagement and support to establish what works. We encourage applicants to co-design activities with young men to ensure their needs, interests and priorities are met as well as challenging the barriers they face in accessing mental health provision.
We expect to make approximately 20 grants of around £100,000-£150,000 across the UK.
This funding programme is for vulnerable and disadvantaged men, aged between 11 and 20 years, who are experiencing mental health problems. We are focusing on this age group as 50% of adults who experience mental health problems present symptoms in their teens.
Evidence shows that there are clear gender differences in young people’s mental health behaviours, including how they cope and how they seek support. Generally, parents, carers and professionals are better able to recognise behavioural problems in boys and emotional problems in girls, and as a result, young men’s mental health is often overlooked.
Applicants for the fund are asked to provide information to show they have a sound understanding of the needs of the young men they intend to work with. There needs to be a clear understanding of the barriers these young men face in accessing and engaging with mental health support, and a clear plan showing how they will address them.
Evidence suggests that activity-based interventions have proven successful in engaging with young men, creating a space for them to firstly ask for help and then develop trust. Peer support and group activities have also been shown to be key factors in young men feeling more confident, comfortable and empowered to engage. We encourage all of our applicants to consider testing out different approaches to see what works.
We will prioritise applications which:
- Have consulted and plan to co-design activities with young men to ensure their needs and interests are met effectively.
- Are working with young men from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities or those with co-occurring learning disabilities and mental health problems.
- Use activity based interventions as a tool of engagement and/or that are psychologically informed. We expect to fund applications using the arts and sports as well as social and cultural activities.
- Promote and recognise the power of peer support and positive role models and incorporate these into their interventions.
- Ensure activities are carried out in non-stigmatising locations.
Proposals are welcome from across the UK for between £100,000 and £150,000 for up to three years’ work in the UK.
We welcome applications from specialist mental health and/or youth organisations and are particularly interested in organisations that are based in the community they work in. Partnership bids are welcome. Only one proposal per applicant can be submitted.
Applicants should also check our grant making policies (links below) which explain our eligibility criteria for all organisations applying to Comic Relief for funding.