Men's mental health must begin in school

Award-nominated Scotch College Psychologist Jon Marginis says supporting men's mental health must begin in school.

Mr Marginis has been nominated for the Australian Men's Health Forum's Men's Health Awards 2020, in the category Local Men's Health Hero Award, for his substantial work in boys' and men's mental health.

Well known for his advocacy work, Mr Marginis has raised the profile and importance of male mental health on a local, national and international level.

Mr Marginis said mental health support needs to begin as young as possible in order to reduce the stigma around mental health in boys and men.

He currently provides support to boys as young as three-years-old through to adult men via his work as an in-house psychologist at Scotch College and at a private practice.

"As a society we need to continue making male mental health a priority and provide boys and men with the space and ability to share their feelings when things are not going their way," Mr Marginis said.

"By encouraging boys to talk honestly it enables them to develop a healthy outlet for their thoughts and emotions, and results in them feeling empowered to reach out when they are struggling"

According to the WA Men's Health Report Card 2019, men accounted for three in four suicides in WA with 304 suicides of 409 in 2017.

Boys in WA are also more likely than girls to drop out of school before the end of Year 12.

"We know that there is a gender gap when it comes to mental health, but there's also a gender imbalance that we see in the psychology sector in Australia," Mr Marginis said.

"I hope that as time goes on more men feel comfortable to enter this profession, as there simply aren't that many of us."

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, almost 80% of psychologists in Australia are women.

Headmaster Dr Alec O'Connell said: "The mental health of our families is an absolute priority for us at Scotch College.

"Jon works across our Junior and Senior School and has really demonstrated that psychological support does not need to be talking in a room.

"You'll often find Jon around campus, dropping into classrooms, taking a walk or kicking a football with students and making sure they feel heard.

"For boys and men, there are substantial historical stigmas attached to talking about your feelings and it's been remarkable to see the change that Jon has empowered in young people."

Mr Marginis said that COVID-19 raised new challenges for families and a greater need for mental health support.

"At Scotch College, we support our community for life, and we knew that when COVID-19 hit we needed to go further to ensure that our current and past families were supported during what has been a very difficult time for many," Mr Marginis said.

"My colleagues at Scotch – Ms Shauna Lipscombe and Ms Kim Lorimer – and I found that many families struggled at home, not simply with the threat to health and employment but also with the challenge of having all the kids and parents stuck at home for weeks, unable to see their friends and extended family.

"When Old Scotch Collegians President Michael Silbert offered my support to the OSC, I heard back from many past families, with many expressing the emotional stress that COVID-19 had brought within their own families and, for some, the financial stress caused by loss of income."

The Men's Health Awards 2020 winners will be announced during Men's Health Week from Monday 15 June to Sunday 21 June 2020.

Biography

Jon Marginis is a leading Perth-based psychologist who specialises in male mental health. His expertise covers the cognitive, developmental, psychological and psychosocial changes that boys and men experience throughout their lifespan. Mr Marginis is unique as he works throughout the lifespan of men and is an advocate for males engaging in mental health services. He believes in educating boys from a young age about the importance of emotional awareness and regulation. He places a heavy emphasis on early intervention when working with boys and their families. Mr Marginis has presented at multiple conferences including The International Men's Health Conference 2019 on the topic of 'Why Men Don't Talk'.

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