Social connections good for men

Male bonding is good for men’s mental health but a lack of social connections can undermine it, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) says.

Dr Paul Jelfs, ABS General Manager of Population and Social Statistics, said that 75 per cent of Australian men had weekly face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside their household in 2014, while nine in 10 also had weekly contact through other means such as phone calls, text messaging and email.

Sport was a popular form of social interaction, with around three quarters of all men participating in physical recreation in 2014 and just over half attending a sporting event as a spectator.

“Sport is a great way for men to get together, and regardless of whether they play or watch, men are able to gain mental health benefits through spending time with friends," Dr Jelfs said.

Volunteering could also have mental health benefits by giving men a sense of purpose and enjoyment. In 2014, around 2.6 million Australian men participated in voluntary work, with 78 per cent saying that they did so for personal satisfaction or to help others and their community.

"In general, younger men are more likely to help with sporting teams while older men are more likely to volunteer for welfare, community or religious organisations," Dr Jelfs said. 

Other popular activities for men included attending movies; visiting botanic gardens, zoos or aquariums; and attending concerts, theatres or other performing arts events.

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