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As society grapples with the complexities of male identity and the crisis it faces, we must acknowledge an emerging force that holds the potential to reshape masculinity for the better: technology.

The rise of a toxic online culture, as highlighted by this recent Guardian article here, has underscored a pressing need for positive male role models on social media. Yet, in our work at Brothers in Arms (BIA), we have seen firsthand how technology can be harnessed to counteract this negativity and support men's mental health.

The problem is twofold. On one hand, traditional societal norms have conditioned men to suppress their emotions and maintain an outward facade of strength. On the other hand, these norms are perpetuated within online spaces where men often interact. This creates a vicious cycle where negative behaviors are amplified and positive role models are drowned out.

However, just as technology has contributed to this issue, it also holds solutions. At BIA, we've adopted an approach called 'Prevention through Self-Management', leveraging technology as a tool for change.

We believe that waiting until a man reaches crisis before offering help is akin to throwing him a lifebuoy when he's already drowning. Instead of reinforcing this reactive model of mental health care, we aim to provide proactive support through digital platforms that men already use daily.

With our first version of Blethr, we created an online space where men can discuss their struggles without fear of judgment or ridicule. This platform serves not only as a safe space for conversation but also provides a listening space where males can healthily express their frustrations and emotions and where they can be challenged in a non-judgmental way as a means to manage their own emotional well-being.

With our #TimeToBlether campaign, which is currently running until the end of 2024, we're fostering connections between individuals who may be experiencing similar issues - creating a community founded on mutual understanding and shared experiences rather than isolation or stigmatization.

And with our soon-to-be-launched #1000 Mile Walk with Craig Ferguson, who is taking on a HUGE 1000-mile trek from Scotland to Germany for BIA! We're promoting positive male role models who openly discuss their mental health, challenging the notion that strength equates to emotional stoicism.

The key to this approach is accessibility. By integrating these resources into platforms that men already use, we're meeting them where they are rather than expecting them to seek help on unfamiliar and potentially intimidating terms. And with our (soon to be launched) next version of Blethr that we are currently fundraising for we will be expanding its ability so that whether you're grappling with anxiety, stress (including burnout or PTSD), mild to moderate depression, anger, or loneliness, Blethr will provide a space for therapy conversations tailored to these issues.

This is not an overnight solution. Changing societal norms and reshaping the perception of masculinity is a long-term endeavor. However, by harnessing technology's potential for good, we can begin to detoxify social media spaces and empower men to take charge of their mental health.

It's time for us as a society to recognize the power of technology in shaping our perceptions and interactions. We must direct this power towards fostering positive change rather than perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Let's use digital spaces not as battlegrounds but as platforms for understanding, empathy, and growth.

Read more about our campaign here: https://brothersinarmsscotland.co.uk/timetoblether/

Learn more about the #1000 Mile Walk here: https://www.instagram.com/craigferguson_1/

Brothers in Arms