What is the YBMen Project?
The Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health Project
Why Young Black Males?
The Need: Transform Gender Norms. Enrich Mental Health. Engage in Social Support.
Young Black men experience disproportionately higher levels of mental health challenges due to their exposure to a greater frequency and severity of psychosocial stressors compared to other young men.
Studies have chronicled the poor health outcomes of Black men as a result of: racial discrimination, negative attitudes toward the justice system, racial and cultural identity, depression, violence, and masculine gender norms.
Yet, the mental health challenges among young Black men have largely been left out of national discussions about this segment of the population and concerns about violence. These mental health challenges are not always discussed in the Black community itself, making them difficult to address.
How Does It Work?
Using Social Media to Facilitate Healing Discussions
Participants join a private YBMen group (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, etc.) that our team has created, where we post information and prompts that are culturally-sensitive, age-appropriate, and gender-specific.
These include YouTube videos, song lyrics, and current news headlines.
From there, we facilitate online discussions, where we ask the group members to respond with their ideas, thoughts, and perceptions of issues related to mental health, manhood, and social support, communicating in the private Facebook or Instagram group using original posts, comments, “likes,” and “shares.”
The Results: Our Method Works.
Our Findings: Supporting Young Black Men Using Social Media Platforms Works.
Based on our research, we have found that the YBMen Project’s approach to supporting young Black men using social media platforms is successful.
During the first phase of the YBMen Project at Jackson College, depressive symptoms decreased for men in the YBMen Facebook group but not for those in the comparison group.
Also, user engagement was strong, as 88% of participants viewed the YBMen Facebook group weekly and 63% actively participated each week.