Older men’s mental health and emotional wellbeing: Use of community support groups

Alexandra Vickery In progress  


Older men may be less likely to seek professional help for mental health difficulties because of fear of weakness and embarrassment, and their experience of mental distress may specifically impact their social connections and social life. Attending a support group within the local community that is designed to support attendees’ mental wellbeing might have certain benefits to older men who may struggle with aspects of help seeking due to male identity, ageing and isolation. This is particularly important in a time of increased isolation and mental distress due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.


This study aims to:

  • Identify the social contexts that are significantly associated with older men’s use of community support group services
  • Develop a deeper understanding of older men’s experiences of help seeking for mental health difficulties and how might intersecting aspects of gender, race, sexuality, religion, location and ageing shape these experiences
  • Explore older men’s formal and informal support seeking routes and networks and the levels of engagement with such forms of support
  • Develop a greater understanding of older men’s use of community support groups, including how they came to attend such groups, the perceived usefulness of groups for them as older men, and what does and does not work in these services
  • Identify new ways in which social care services in the future could support older men to manage mental health difficulties and to maintain good mental wellbeing.


This study is:

  • Examining a large dataset on mental health problems and service use, to explore if there are any links between older men’s social characteristics and circumstances (for example, age, socio-economic status, ethnicity, sexuality, physical health, social support and previous health care) and use of community support groups
  • Gathering the views and experiences of older men through interviews with individuals who will be currently attending, or had previously attended, a community mental health support group in two different locations in England
  • Interview 5 individuals who facilitate and run support groups.