Scottish dads set for mental health app, thanks to Movember funding

A Scottish charity has been awarded funding from the Movember men’s health campaign to develop an app to support fathers with mental health concerns.

Father’s Network Scotland (FNS) has claimed a share of a £1.86 million ($2.6 million) funding pot earmarked for the development of digital and tech ideas that can help men tackle the mental health challenges that stem from social isolation, which have become increasingly acute during the pandemic.

It is envisaged that the app will provide 24/7 help for struggling men themselves, and also provide resources for those who are worried about a male friend or relative, directing them as quickly and easily as possible to the services nearest to them.

Users will also be able to access a chat area where they can speak to other men who may be feeling under pressure.

A survey of 284 Scottish fathers reported by FSN in March concluded that 64% of fathers polled by the charity said their mental health had suffered during lockdown, although on the plus side 60% said the restrictions had positively impacted their relationships with their children.

It was notable that 96% of dads who reported a decline in mental health had sought some kind or support, although that was overwhelmingly from their partner, family or friends.

Meanwhile, another poll commissioned by Movember in May 2020 found that nearly a quarter of men globally (23%) reported their mental health had worsened in the first six weeks of the pandemic, but experts think that COVID-19 merely amplified an ongoing crisis in male mental wellbeing.

Almost a third of men (30%) reported increased feelings of loneliness with the highest percentage (71%) among young men in the 18-29 year bracket.

It is well established that men are less likely to seek help for their mental health and therefore are diagnosed less often, which can have fatal consequences. In fact, suicide is the leading cause of death in men aged 20–49 in the UK.

Kirsty Nicholls, project lead for the app at Fathers Network Scotland, told The Scotsman newspaper that there are still “outdated gender stereotypes and…pressure on men to not open up about their emotions.”

She went on: “The app will mean that any man who is facing mental health challenges will be able to receive help 365 days a year and make strong social connections when they are most needed.”

The app will be developed over two years, but the aim is to get it up and running within the first 12 months.

The app is one of 11 projects that receiving funding from the Movember campaign’s Social Connections Challenge, with three others based in the UK.

The others include: Gamers vs Depression, which uses online gaming as a vehicle for developing depression literacy and better social connections in adolescent males; Maate!, a digital platform to help young men to maintain social connections by assisting in the organisation of free virtual group activities; and Chai in the City, a project aimed at breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health for men and boys from Punjabi communities in the UK.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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