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Working with men and boys: New guide lines

The American Psychological Association recently released guidelines to help psychologists work with men and boys.

Although designed for use by psychologists, the guidelines are an important read for any health professionals offering social support to men and boys in their role.

The guidelines draw on over 40 years research showing the psychologically harmful effect that traditional masculinity - marked by stoicism, aggression, dominance, and competitiveness - can have on boys and their evolving identities, behaviour and mental health. Indeed, higher identification with traditional masculine culture is associated with increases in risky health behaviours like heavy drinking and avoiding vegetables; lower help-seeking for physical and mental health issues; and the incidence of externalising disorders, experiencing violent crime, and death by suicide.

The guidelines address issues related to the reluctance that men have in admitting vulnerability stemming from socialisation to be stoic and self-sufficient; all the way to complexities in managing the evolving conceptualisations of gender, sexuality, and their role in society. For example, encouraging men to engage more fully with their children and partners.

A key message that one of the guidelines' contributing authors hopes to convey is that 'Getting that message out to men—that they’re adaptable, emotional and capable of engaging fully outside of rigid norms—is what the new guidelines are designed to do. And if psychologists can focus on supporting men in breaking free of masculinity rules that don’t help them, the effects could spread beyond just mental health for men'.

For more information the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys can be accessed at:

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