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January 2017: Director’s Corner

January 2017: Introducing the YBMen Project Newsletter



Greetings friends, Happy New Year!

My name is Daphne C. Watkins and I am pleased to share with you our inaugural newsletter for the Young Black Men, Masculinities, and Mental Health (YBMen) Project.
You are receiving this newsletter because ​of​ your interest in, passion for, and work with boys and men of color, and your commitment to improving the living, learning, and working conditions of under​-represented males more ​broadly.

I conceptualized the YBMen Project back in 2008 as a face-to-face mental health education and social support intervention for 18 to 30 year old black men. But after seeing the interest and excitement around social media outlets during those early years, my team and I launched the first YBMen Project via Facebook in the fall of 2014.

The goal of the YBMen Project is exactly what our tag line reads: we aim to improve the lives of young black men by transforming their gender norms, enriching their mental health, and encouraging their engagement in social support. The innovation behind the YBMen Project is that we deliver it using popular culture references (e.g., YouTube videos, popular songs, music artists, photos, and relevant news stories) and through our 5- to 8-week long curriculum that we co-develop with our partnering institutions and implement via Facebook.

To date, we have worked with faculty and staff at Jackson College (Michigan)​, Washtenaw Community College (Michigan), University of Michigan,​ and Eastern Michigan University whose YBMen participants experienced lower depressive symptoms, more expansive definitions of gender norms, and stronger social support networks compared to those who did not participate in the project.

Our outcomes are promising, and have given us hope that with continued partnerships, targeted tailoring, and sustained support, we can reach more young Black men. So I invite you to read our newsletter and connect with us. Share your thoughts, ideas, and (of course the) challenges associated with your current work. Let’s keep our lines of communication open, as we work together to impact the lives of boys and men of color.


Dr. Daphne Watkins