Why Join a Men’s Group?
80% of those who have serious drug addictions are men.
80% of the homeless on American streets are men.
Men are 43 times more likely than women to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals and 25 times as likely to end up in prison.
80% of suicide deaths are men.
Life expectancy for men is 7 years less than for women. Men have higher death rates in the 15 leading causes of death.
Why are men so much more at risk than women?
While women already have an average of six close friends for social support, men average only one, who is usually his partner. Without social support both genders are at three to five times greater risk of premature death and disease from all causes.
How can the East Bay Men’s Network (or another men’s organization) help?
First, we provide a safe space. Members need to trust each other to disclose vulnerable feelings rather than report superficial activities. With the case of EBMN or an umbrella men’s council, volunteer screeners ensure only appropriate members are placed in groups. If a man is in crises, domineering, demanding or needy we will refer him to professional psychotherapy.
What does it mean to share what’s really going on?
This is the expression of our basic feelings, happy, sad, angry and fearful. Some studies report that boys start out being more emotionally expressive than girls even at 6 months old. By age six, boys start shutting down due to conditioning by parents and society. We are discouraged to express vulnerable feelings. Emotionally gifted boys grow up into being emotionally stunted men. A men’s group can encourage its members to re-learn the language of feelings, a vocabulary long since forgotten.
Second, members agree to maintain confidentiality. What comes up in the group stays there as sacred trust.
Third, we ask each member to make attendance a high priority. If a man shares a significant part of himself, those who don’t show miss out.
Fourth, we make friends with each other by disclosing that which is valuable and precious. We reach out to each other between meetings by sharing a walk, a meal or a personal project. The, 2-3 hours we spend in group is more than most of us spend with other friends. For many our men’s group forms the core of our personal friendship network.
Finally, we value and give credence to the human “being” rather than the human “doing”. The worth of a man is more than his productivity and accomplishments. You will not see an annual job-performance evaluation here.
Thus, support groups give men the opportunity to safely share feelings, overcome isolation, build friendships and be “at home” with others. Take heed, having a good support system is critical to your well-being. It is just good medicine.