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Support groups for men

Are you thinking of setting up a mental health support group for men in the legal sector but need some ideas about how to start?

This resource was developed following a webinar in February 2023.  Listen to a recording of the webinar (audio only)

Men's Webinar Image (1) Edited

Start off by asking yourself some questions:

  • Who should be involved and what could your group look like?
    • Think about what you would like to achieve – how often would you like to meet, what size of group would work for the sessions you have in mind?
    • Is there someone else you could work with to get set up? If you know others who have an interest in mental health and providing a safe space for men to talk why not have a chat with them to work on some ideas.
    • Think about why you want to set the group up - have you been through something yourself and what do you wish had been available for you? Use your own experiences to help shape your group.
    • Consider setting up a group away from your firm or organisation. Having an independent setting may encourage men to speak up and be reassured that they can do so freely and without worry.
    • Bear in mind that it helps if those in the group have experiences in common or are able to bond over relatable challenges.
  • How can I advertise the group and upcoming sessions?  
    • Use social media and be authentic in your posts. Lots of lawyers use LinkedIn.
    • Ask friends and colleagues to like and share your posts.
    • Make it easy for people to join.
    • Approach legal organisations within the catchment area/jurisdiction you want to cover and ask for their support and assistance to spread the word.  Perhaps they could post on their social media channels too.
    • Talk to people let them know your plans and what you hope to achieve.
    • Let LawCare know your plans and we can advertise it too.
    • After they have attended encourage members of the group to share with any friends and connections they think would like to join.
  • How can I get people to come together and create a safe space?
    • Set out some rules for the group at the outset to start to build trust.
    • You can leave work ‘at the door,’ if you want to turn off for an hour.
    • Nothing will be recorded and stories shared within the group stay within the group.
    • Be ready to lead the group and show vulnerability – help lead the way for others.
    • Recognise that men need a space to talk but may never have found somewhere that they feel comfortable doing this before, understand that this may take time.
    • Invite people to share their experiences – if you can be open about your own experiences, it may help others to open up and share how they are really feeling especially at the start.
    • Encourage stories and connections.
    • Be prepared to persevere – you may need to be resilient and determined to strike the right balance with your group.
  • How do I pick a theme or topic for a session?
    • For your first session you might like to ask attendees to generally discuss and be open about their mental health and how it fluctuates. What difficulties have they faced in opening up about their mental health? What struggles have they encountered or what are they currently facing?
    • Follow up sessions: are there any ideas that can be taken forward from a previous session, anything that keeps coming up or seems to really resonate within the group?
    • Is there anything you have read about that you would like to discuss?
    • Do other members of the group have any suggestions; are there any particular topics they would like to discuss?
    • One word can be enough to get you started to work on planning your session.
  • Ideas for session structure
    • Consider whether an online set up would work for you – it may make it easier for men to access as there is no travel time and no geographical boundaries. It also opens up possibilities for the group to be accessible to more people.
    • Get started with some introductions – invite people who are happy to speak to introduce themselves, again no pressure.
    • Introduce the theme to be discussed.
    • Prepare a few questions to get the conversation started.

    E.g. Theme: - Happiness and Success

    • How do you define happiness and success? Do the two intertwine?
    • Is happiness the result of success or is success the result of happiness?
    • What is it that makes you happy?
    • Do you have any ideas of things that others could read or listen to that you’d like to share with the group based on the theme/topic? Podcasts, articles, songs, books.
    • End of session: How do we become more happy? How do we bring these things into our lives?
  • What potential benefits are there for attendees?
    • The possibility of building real and genuine connections and relationships.
    • An opportunity to take time out, be open and really think about things.
    • A chance to focus on where you are and where you want to get to.
    • A way to alleviate loneliness and find a sense of belonging.
    • Prospect of a new support structure.
    • Giving yourself time to talk about things that will benefit you and your life.
    • Be inspired by sharing in the experiences of others.
    • Take away ideas which you can build into your day to day life, the potential to make improvements learning from the ideas and experiences others.

A recent review of our helpline showed that a significant majority (approximately 65%) of the people getting in touch for support identified as being female, with only 35% identifying as being male.  We know from other reports and statistics that men are less likely to discuss their mental health or seek help for mental health problems. 

We also know that mental health does not discriminate and we want to do all we can to influence change in the practice and culture of law to better support men. LawCare produced a a report about Men's mental health in the legal profession.

The evidence shows that groups that encourage discussion and provide a safe space to do so are a good starting point for many.  Please get in touch with LawCare on [email protected]  if you do set up a group and let us know and how you get on.

"If you listen to people, you can learn something from everybody that you speak with."

James McFarlane

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