Monday, November 29, 2004

The Men's Health Forum in Ireland Website

The Men's Health Forum in Ireland website contains links to a wealth of information on men's issues and organisations in the Republic and in Northern Ireland. If you want to read Irish reports and research on the topic or to contact organisations working with men on the island of Ireland, this is the place to go. The Men's Health Forum in Ireland says it "seeks to promote, influence and enhance all aspects of the health and well-being of men and boys on the island of Ireland." If you're interested in men's issues, you'll get happily lost in this website.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Prosperity brings 400 per cent increase in young male suicides

Ireland's prosperity has brought a rise in youth suicide, especially among adolescent males, according to an Irish Times (premium content) story by Olivia Kelly."

Since 1990 there has been a 400 per cent increase in the number of suicides among young males between the ages of 15 and 24. This has happened at a time of significant social and cultural change and there is a significant relationship between the two factors," Dr Caroline Smyth of RehabCare told a National Children's Office conference. "Celtic Tiger Ireland" had failed to replace the "traditional Irish values" from which it was moving away, she said. "We have seen a move towards a more liberal, consumer based society. People are defined not by who they are but by what they own."

"There are very few role models left. There used to be the church or the guards . . . I'm not proposing returning to that era, but their loss has created a vacuum that needs to be filled.

"Teenage boys and young men seemed to feel the cultural loss more than girls, she said, according to the Irish Times report. In 2003, 444 Irish people died by suicide, of which 358 were male. Some 92 of those males were between the ages of 15 and 24."It's harder than ever before to be a young man in Ireland. The 'ladette' culture has meant that more young women are adopting traditional male roles and young men are experiencing an inability to deal with this cultural change."Young men also cite "helplessness" more often than young women as a factor that makes suicide an "understandable" option, the report says. Traditional research into the subject has failed to take into account the contextual issues of Irish society and treatment has been focused almost exclusively on medication, rather than the provision of support services.

"We need to put suicide prevention programmes into schools and the community not only to target high risk groups but all young people."

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Sensitivity to fathers needed in family courts, states Minister

According to this report by Liam Reid in today's Irish Times, (premium content) the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Mr Seamus Brennan, has criticised the family courts as insensitive to the needs of vulnerable fathers.

Mr Brennan was speaking at the launch of a report for the Family Support Agency on vulnerable fathers and their families. (For more on the report see Report to seek 'father inclusive culture' below).

According to the Irish Times report the Minister said:

- In some cases the family courts have excluded vulnerable fathers from access to their families when it is not in the children's best interest.

- State organisations, such as the courts, need to be sensitive to the role of vulnerable fathers in terms of assessments of their ability to care for their children.

- Fathers should not be excluded from this process unless there were good reasons to do so. "This might not have been the case in the past," he said.

The report, Strengthening Families through Fathers, by Professor Harry Ferguson, of the University of the West of England, and Mr Fergus Hogan, of Waterford Institute of Technology, recommends an overhaul of the family law and social welfare systems to make them more father-friendly.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Young men do best at driving test but most likely to die in road crashes

Last year almost 57 per cent of men passed their driving test in Ireland compared to 53 per cent of women, according to a report by Olivia Kelly in The Irish Times (premium content). Young drivers between 22 and 25 years of age are more likely to pass the test than any other age group, with a success rate of 59 per cent, she writes.

Yet, "the person most likely to be killed in a car crash is a man between 17 and 25 who has held his licence for less than two years, according to figures from the National Roads Authority and the National Safety Council.

"The youngest group of drivers, those aged 16 to 21 have the second highest pass rate at 57.4 per cent, but mature drivers, those over 26 years of age are the least likely to pass at just 51 per cent.

However, the Department of Transport claims the figures do not call into question the standard of the driving test. "The driving test is in line with European standards."The number of young males being killed on the roads is a problem and a common theme throughout Europe, not just in Ireland."

The test and the number of people being killed are two separate issues we don't believe that these recent statistics discredit the test," a spokeswoman for the Department said.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Report to seek 'father inclusive culture'

Social workers and the welfare system in Ireland treat men as "dangerous, non-nurturing beings" according to a report to be published next week, a story by Kitty Holland in The Irish Times (premium content) for November 18th 2004 says.

Main points from the report:

- "The overall orientation of welfare systems to exclude men [is] so powerful that even in cases of inclusive practice clear evidence emerged of men's exclusion."

- "The dynamics of such exclusion took many forms, the most common and powerful of which was a view of men as dangerous, non-nurturing beings."

- Social workers generally expect mothers to carry the burden of caring for children, "leaving the potential resource fathers have to offer largely untapped". The fault lies with the organisational culture of social work rather than with individual social workers, it says.

- Young unmarried fathers "are perhaps the most at-risk yet invisible category of all", says the report. "

- The position of men in public debates on teenage pregnancy is absent and negative as if the children had no fathers. "At its worst they are officially written out of the script of family life due also to the significant pattern of the man's name being omitted from the birth certificate."

- The fact that lone-parent allowance is only paid on condition that the mother does not cohabit has the effect of excluding fathers.

- Forty-two per cent of fathers interviewed were separated or divorced and all spoke of "the exclusion they felt by the family law system, including social services, which they saw as cruelly sexist and anti-man/father".

- "The children in such cases spoke openly of their desire to have relationships with their fathers."

Among the report's 12 recommendations are:

- Paid paternity leave.

- All agencies working with children should develop explicit father-inclusive policies.

- A range of support services, including parenting classes, should be funded for fathers.

- The family law and welfare systems should be overhauled to make them more "father-friendly" and give "due recognition to the rights of unmarried fathers".

The report is entitled Strengthening Families Through Fathers. Its authors are Prof Harry Ferguson of the University of the West of England and Mr Fergus Hogan of the Waterford Institute of Technology. They interviewed 24 "vulnerable" fathers, 10 mothers, 11 children and 19 professionals for the study. By "vulnerable" the authors mean men who experienced problems including marital or relationship breakdown, relationship problems with their children, poverty, addictions, survival of sexual abuse and/or domestic violence, Ms Holland writes.

The study was supported by the Family Support Agency.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Men's Health in Ireland Report

The Men's Health Forum in Ireland launched their report Men's Health in Ireland on Thursday 15th January 2004. The Forum claims the report "provides the most comprehensive overview of key statistics on men's health on the island of Ireland that has ever been collated."