Home Men Health A practical guide to enhance boys’ mental health and wellbeing in schools

A practical guide to enhance boys’ mental health and wellbeing in schools

A practical guide to enhance boys’ mental health and wellbeing in schools

Teenage boys are twice as likely as girls to die by suicide, and, when boys turn out to be men, they’re thrice more likely than women to die by suicide. 

After years on the frontline of teaching and observing, first-hand, a decline in teenage mental health, a teacher has warned that we want to deal higher with male anger, friendships, and attitudes towards sex with the intention to combat the male suicide crisis.  

Official statistics for England, Scotland, and Wales show that in 2020, 264 people aged 10–19 died by suicide – 72% of those were boys. In England, suicide is the only biggest killer of men under the age of 45. They’re thrice more likely than women to die by suicide. 

While statistics surrounding male suicide paint a bleak picture of the long run of boys in our schools, teacher Matt Pinkett thinks all will not be lost. 

What could be done? 

Pinkett has gathered evidence from teachers and college staff, wellbeing experts and therapists to create a robust guide to helping boys, in Boys Do Cry, released next month. 

The sensible and fascinating guide, backed up by the newest research from the fields of psychology and education, suggests that teachers must stop stigmatizing anger and as a substitute help indignant boys understand the neurological and physiological reasons for his or her feelings. 

Anger is not an inherently bad thing and telling boys it’s just results in shame and hiding away. As a substitute, how about we teach them that anger is a sense as natural as joy or sadness, and provides them ways to administer it and the words to discuss it?” 

Matt Pinkett

He also suggests that teachers must make loving, male relationships the norm, and to assume that each social interaction that takes place in a classroom is being watched and internalized.

He advises male teachers to go with male colleagues openly, to speak lovingly about other people, and praise and salute male emotional vulnerability wherever and at any time when possible. 

“I’m not suggesting that we should always ever attempt to be therapists – that might never work,” Pinkett explains, “but the very fact is that we’re in front of those children for large chunks of their life. If we will speak positively about male emotions and display ways of coping with problematic feelings, that might be a robust thing.” 

Talking is not enough 

In Boys Do Cry, Pinkett advocates the advantages of the ‘bromance’, suggesting that teachers and schools harness this relatively recent phenomenon of male-to-male relationships. He argues that in teaching boys about bromances, teachers can equip young men with the talents to actively listen and display compassion and affection towards one another. 

He suggests teachers may also help facilitate emotional connection between boys and help construct friendships which can be supportive. 

He explains: “The issue is not encouraging young men to speak – it’s teaching their peers to listen. Research suggests boys don’t listen in addition to girls. There’s a lot conversation about encouraging boys and men to talk up, but are we teaching them how you can support one another through listening effectively?” 

Demonstrated through research and case studies, Pinkett argues that boys crave emotional intimacy and the liberty to precise themselves without being mocked, but that toxic ideas about masculinity are stopping these fruitful peer relationships. 

“We want to show boys to be kind, and that it’s OK to be vulnerable and emotionally articulate,” he says. 

Profit to society 

Together with his research-backed tools and suggestions, Pinkett hopes the book will give teachers confidence to have interaction with really difficult topics – to the advantage of all. 

“This is not just an issue for teenage boys. If we will teach these boys to eliminate those harmful and outdated expectations of what it means to be a person, all of society will probably be higher off,” Pinkett says. “It is barely through education of young those who the scourge of male-on-female sexual abuse, assault, and harassment could be eradicated.” 

Boys Do Cry examines key research on aspects impacting boys’ mental health, including topics comparable to body image, pornography and self-harm, and provides teachers with practical strategies to begin enacting positive change. 

Together with his extensive research, he has created advice on intervening when a toddler could also be in peril, to tips about how you can arrange group working so friendships could be made while learning. 

“This is not about turning teachers into therapists,” Pinkett adds, “It’s nearly being brave enough to intervene and provides boys a probability to learn one other way of being.” 


Journal reference:

Pinkett, M. (2023). Boys Do Cry. doi.org/10.4324/9781003250722.


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