Mojo: Helping men to help themselves
There is much talk about mental health in Irish society; we are often reminded by advertising campaigns to take care of our mental health and to reach out when we need it. Most of us however, need to be supported to do this.
Ever heard the phrase ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’? This ancient idea could be used to summarise what Mojo stands for. We believe that ‘mental health’ does not just mean looking after the mind, it means taking care of our physical and emotional health and building strong social connections. Our role is to help men help themselves. Our aim is to reduce rates of male suicide in Ireland and levels of anxiety and depression by working in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies.
Men attending Mojo are empowered by the tools they learn to develop resilience to life’s challenges and periods of distress. Their new tools can help them return to work or education, and to explore options to live a life they’re happy with.
The programme is twelve weeks in duration, running over two mornings a week. The first morning focuses on building mental and physical fitness and the second on goal-setting and planning through working in groups and one on one with a Life Planning Co-ordinator. And the social connections? They develop naturally through the process.
During Mojo, the men are introduced to local services that they can avail of in the future. Many of the Mojo men continue to build on their social connections and resilience by meeting up regularly in their own male space.
Since 2011, we have built four projects nationwide in South Dublin, Kildare, North Dublin, and Offaly and our aim is to have ’20 by 2020’ – that is 20 Mojo projects nationwide by 2020. In 2016, Mojo affiliated with Mental Health Ireland (MHI) to help build our capacity to make this a reality. MHI provides finance and governance support as we work towards setting up an organisational structure to respond to the growing demand for Mojo Projects across Ireland.
Social connections are key to Mojo’s success and relationships can help us maintain our mental fitness. Humans are social creatures that need to belong and feel connected, but at difficult times in our lives we may feel disconnected from those closest to us – loved ones, work mates, or friends – as we often feel they may not understand what we are going through. This feeling can be particularly strong when the distress is combined with unemployment, former work friends may go their separate ways and while traditional family roles are changing, men can still feel under pressure to be the provider for their family. Unemployment can cause some men to feel worthless, depressed or isolated. Therefore, having a social network of other men who are struggling with similar issues is a key step to making positive change. Mojo provides a space where men can develop protective relationships and connections.
The tagline on the www.malehealth.ie website, “When was your last service?” rings true in our approach; our bodies and minds need to be serviced and maintained more regularly and rigorously than our cars. They are far more precious than any vehicle, so do a little every day to keep them in tip-top condition. Mind your mojo men.
For more information on Mojo go to www.mojo.ngo.