Understanding Masculinity: Emotional Wellbeing and Men


Statistics show that more women are murdered in Northern Ireland as a result of domestic violence than in any other part of western Europe per population size. With 0.43 killings per 100,000 inhabitants, this is three times that of England and Wales, with incidents increasing since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 12 January 2022 a 23-year-old primary school teacher, Ashling Murphy, was attacked and killed while jogging along the Grand Canal outside Tullamore, County Offaly. Her killing reinvigorated conversations surrounding violence against women in Ireland and as a result Informing Choices NI (ICNI) were approached by a GAA club, Wolfe Tones GAC, from Newtownabbey to work with their male coaches to address this issue and to ensure the club is inclusive of all members.

In developing a programme outline ICNI were conscious that men are rarely provided with opportunities to discuss issues that impact their wellbeing. Therefore, we created a programme which enabled a safer space to discuss masculinity and issues that impact on men’s mental wellbeing, such as social isolation and loneliness. The project built their confidence to access medial and emotional support at an early stage, while also working towards reducing all forms of violence.

With the increase in violence against women and the continued high rate of male suicide ICNI successfully applied to the Public Health Agency (PHA) Making Life Better Through Short Term Funding Programme. This grant enabled us to provide our Understanding Masculinity: Emotional Wellbeing and Men programme to groups within the Belfast HSC Trust area.

This programme encourages participants to examine their understanding of masculinity, the role it plays in their daily life, and their ability to become role models with an opportunity to positively influence those around them. The primary aims of the programme are as follows:

  1. To create a safer space for men to discuss issues relevant to them, such as masculinity, stereotypical views of men, male values, and attitudes around emotional wellbeing;
  2. To create a safer space for men to examine violence in all forms, how values and attitudes contribute to violence, and the bystander role; and
  3. To create a safer space for men to talk about actively seeking help and support around these issues

We delivered the programme to 41 participants from the Glentoran FC Elite Scholars Programme, the NOW Group, and the Greater Whitewell Community Surgery. Participants aged from teenagers to men in their 70s. You can read our project evaluation here.


“I learned that it’s okay to talk, and that I want my son to see that it’s okay to talk too. I want him to come and talk to me at any time.”

Aodhan, NOW Group participant

“The course was exceptional. From the outset the trainer was extremely
engaging and interactive. This approach brought the boys out of their
shells and allowed them to feel relaxed, at ease and able to share openly when required. The content was relevant to issues boys face in society and I would highly recommend this to other groups.”

Nathan McConnell, Teacher, Ashfield Boys High School

“Great material, I’d recommend it to any group of men.”

John Kyle, Former Belfast City Councillor and GP

Get in touch

For more information about our Masculinity programme contact:

Mark Breslin
Tel: 07835 081023
Email: mark.breslin@informingchoicesni.org