Man Up! Helping Adolescent Boys Breakthrough Gender Role Conflict Through Positive Masculinity

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Deschenes, Miguel
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There is a discrepancy in adolescent males between those who suffer from mental health concerns and those who seek mental health support. Issues surrounding gender role conflict (GRC) such as social and self-stigma, perceived utility, and with whom to trust personal information are key elements preventing males from seeking help. This capstone project sought to teach middle school boys, in grades six and seven, positive masculinity ideals within the parameters of an option class. Lessons consisted of the boys working through experiential activities followed by reflections, either written or verbal, and group discussions. Feedback from the students was generally positive in that they enjoyed the class. However, the students' growth in understanding GRC and how to overcome it was limited due to the limitations of the class. Such limitations included a student-to-teacher ratio that was too high and not conducive to rapport-building. Another significant limitation was the lack of time one class allowed. Students often did not have the time in one class required to work through an activity and discuss their learning. An area of future research could examine ways to normalize help seeking in a school setting especially among the male students.
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