MHFI - Engage Training

There is an increasing number of organisations / practitioners who are keen to involve men in their programmes and to learn about the most effective means to do this. Commonly, they wish to know why they should involve more men and how to go about it.

The Republic of Ireland was the first country in the world to adopt a National Men’s Health Policy. This policy highlighted the broad range of health and wellbeing issues facing men, and outlined frameworks and strategies to address these needs. In 2017, this Policy was succeeded by the ‘Healthy Ireland - Men’ Action Plan.

The Policy recognised the important role played by service providers and local practitioners in improving the health of men and boys and acknowledged that these stakeholders also have training and support needs. The ‘Engage’ training programme was developed to address the deficit in gender sensitive service provision for men, and to assist people on the ground to effectively build relationships with / meet the health and wellbeing needs of males of all ages.

Engage is the product of a partnership between the National Centre for Men's Health in the Institute of Technology Carlow, the Men’s Development Network, Waterford Institute of Technology, the Health Service Executive's Health and Wellbeing Division and the Men's Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI).

The content is based upon the partners' practice experience and evidence from academic literature. All Engage materials are rigorously field-tested and evaluated, and the most recent workshops were co-produced alongside the facilitation team.

Initially, five Engage ‘Units’ were developed. These focus upon:

  • What is men’s health, how does gender affect it, and what impact does social determinants have?
  • Practitioner values and support.
  • Guiding health consultations with men.
  • The rules of engagement.
  • Establishing a men’s group and sustaining engagement.

Later, in 2015, Unit 6 was added to the programme. This specifically looks at ‘Connecting with Young Men’ - especially in relation to their mental health, and seeks to:

  • Demonstrate why we need to work with young men as a specific group.
  • Help participants to reflect on their own value base, experience, attitudes towards, and expectations of young men.
  • Explore the world of young men, the issues that they face, and the opportunities that exist to engage with them.
  • Consider the practicalities of ‘what works’.
  • Increase the confidence of participants in relation to working with young men.

‘Men in the Middle’ (Unit 7) was created in 2018, and focuses upon how to engage middle-aged men in order to improve their mental health. This looks at:

  • How to create a ‘safe space’ for middle-aged men.
  • Why we need to work with middle-aged men around mental health issues.
  • The world of middle-aged men, the key issues that they face, and the specific pressures upon them.
  • Protective factors for good mental health and wellbeing in middle-age.
  • How our own value base, experience, attitudes and expectations impact upon our interactions.
  • Examples of what works in practice / what a male-friendly service might look like.

A further Unit is, currently, being finalised. This is called 'On Feirm Ground', and will work with Agricultural Advisors to support and improve the health of Irish farmers.

There are two types of Engage training:

  • Training for Trainers - an intensive, mostly residential course, designed to give a small number of key facilitators the knowledge, skills, experience and support to deliver Engage workshops to others. These are only run occasionally to meet the ongoing needs of the programme.
  • Engage Workshops - sessions delivered by Engage facilitators (i.e. graduates from the Training for Trainers programme) to front-line service providers and practitioners. These workshops focus on one or more of the Units mentioned above, and seek to: help participants to increase their understanding of the world of men; enhance their capacity to build relationships with them; and explore what models of effective practice might look like in local situations.

For further information on the ‘Engage’ training programme and how to access it, please click here and use the Contact Form.

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