HAMPSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL has joined forces with Kent County Council and a number of European organisations to secure around £300,000 to find new ways of supporting men with their mental health.

The partner co-operation programme, known as Step by Step (SBS), will use the funding to invest in more than 90 projects across Hampshire and Kent over the next four years, of which some 40 are expected to be in Hampshire. While the majority of the projects will be aimed primarily at men, as on average men are 20 per cent less likely to seek support for mental health issues, women will also be included.

Councillor Patricia Stallard, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health and the Authority’s Mental Health Wellbeing Champion, said: “Hampshire has been at the forefront of developing innovative ways of supporting people to improve their mental wellbeing. This is an exciting opportunity for us to test a wide range of community based approaches to support people experiencing social isolation, and associated mental health issues.”

The projects will be based on the successful Men's Sheds initiative, identifying opportunities to work with local community groups to tackle loneliness and improve social connections and friendship building. This supports men to deal with mental health challenges more easily and remain independent.

The partner organisations will share their experiences with each other to ensure all the geographical areas involved have the opportunity to learn about what works well. They will then be able to use this learning to help develop new successful initiatives in their own areas.