One-third of students experience a mental health condition associated with decreased academic functioning and increased risk of dropping out. While mental health difficulties are lower among male students, they are twice as likely to die by suicide. Although the importance of gender-sensitive interventions for male students has been emphasized, feasible and effective approaches are unexplored. This investigation conducted three gender-sensitive feasibility interventions for male students to evaluate acceptability, changes to help-seeking and mental health outcomes. Three interventions were delivered to 24 male students. The interventions included the following: Intervention 1—a formal intervention targeting male students, Intervention 2—a formal intervention that adopted gender-sensitive language and promoted positive masculine traits, and Intervention 3—an informal drop-in offering a social space providing health information. These were evaluated for acceptability, attitudes to help-seeking, and mental health outcomes. All interventions were equally acceptable. The informal drop-in was more acceptable, having better engagement from male students who have greater conformity to maladaptive masculine traits, more negative attitudes to help-seeking, higher levels of self-stigma, who were less likely to have used mental health support before and belonged to an ethnic minority. These findings indicate differences in acceptability, particularly uptake, for hard-to-engage male students. Informal strategies help reach male students who would otherwise not engage with mental health support, familiarize them with help-seeking, and connect them with pre-existing mental health interventions. More work needs to be carried out using larger samples to investigate the efficacy of informal interventions to engage male students.
- mental health
- service uptake