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M.E.N.D.S. > Strategies for Seperated Men

Strategies for Seperated Men

The following is an overview of The program MENDS - Strategies for Separated Men. It outlines the needs addressed by the program, the urgent need for quality solutions to the problems faced by men in separation and that it addresses an acute need that impacts many people beyond the men themselves.

Following is a summary of the stakeholder needs addressed by the MENDS program, an overview of the program content, and why and how it addresses community problems and government and business costs.

Community Needs

  • There are well over 53,000 divorces in Australia each year, involving roughly the same number of children under eighteen (18) years of age. Statistics on defacto relationships are harder to come by, but a conservative estimate would be that there would be one third (1/3rd ) the number of marriages and with at least as many children. That creates a total of over 70,000 relationship failures impacting a similar number of children.
  • Men are identifiably reluctant to engage services that address their emotional life. Latest data shows women are initiating the end of a relationship in two thirds of cases. The result is a lot of men who are effectively stuck in grief - having lost not just a primary relationship, but frequently daily access to their children.
  • Men generally do not grieve well - Results of the FCA Research Report No 14 - The Effects of Martial Separation on Men -10 Years On by Peter Jordon; revealed that 10 years after marital separation, 46% of men were still significantly influenced by feelings of anger towards their former partner.
  • When the emotional impact of separation is not adequately addressed, men may express their unresolved feeling in antisocial ways. The most common way is to express such in an outward way eg. against people or objects. This may take the form of domestic violence. The other (less visible) way is to suppress the strong feelings and turn them inward - depression, substance abuse and suicide are typical outcomes. Extreme and tragic cases have taken the form of murder of the former partner and/or children and then suicide.
  • Frequently overlooked statistics on separated males and suicide are alarming. Research conducted in Queensland by Chris H Cantor and Penelope J Slater reported in the Journal of Family Studies Vol 1, No 2, Oct 95; showed separated men at 6.2 times the risk of suicide and separated males under thirty (30) years at nearly 9 times the risk as compared to their married peers.


What are the Impacts of not Addressing the Problems?

The men are at risk of:

  • Depression and increased (ill) health cost
  • Job loss, due to poor performance.
  • Rushing into new relationships prematurely.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Falling foul of the law through acts of violence.

Risks to Children

  • Children, often already traumatised by the parental relationship failure, frequently have the added stress of physically, mentally and financially exhausted parents, who frequently remain confrontational in their dealings.
  • Emotionally distraught children are less likely to effectively engage education resources.
  • Adult children of divorced parents may have the additional baggage of fear, mistrust or hyper-sensitivity toward relationships adding to their challenges of establishing satisfying and stable adult relationships as adults.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Falling foul of the law through acts of violence.

New Relationship Partners

  • New partners who form relationships with men who have not resolved issues from prior relationship/s may be in for a difficult time. Such men are frequently emotionally withdrawn and/or emotionally hyper-sensitive and certainly not totally emotionally available - a poor basis for a successful new relationship.

Grandparents

  • Parents of men from failed prior relationships with children, and particularly where the relationship with the (custodial) mother is strained, are frequently heavily restricted in their access (contact) to their grand-children. This strain impacts on the wellbeing of both the grand-parent/s and the grand-child/ren.

Community

  • The community, including taxpayers, is effected through both a reduction of contribution to the community (social capital) in general and the economic wealth (taxation revenue) of the nation specifically.
  • At the same time, the drain on community resources is accelerated as those supporting the family are stretched to meet an increasing number of emotionally depleted family members.

Business

  • A recent UK and North American study of over 500 executives, placed the cost to business of a separation and divorce at over £5000 per employee p.a.
  • One (as yet unpublished) Australian study has established a direct link between relationship problems and excessive use of employee sick leave and workers compensation payments in a number of workplaces.
  • Australian EAP (Employee Assistance Provider) organisations consistently report relationship related issues as the major presenting category.


What then does the MENDS program offer against that background and how did it come into existence?


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