Alberta Men's Survey Results

 

The Alberta Men's Survey

The AMS was distributed from July through October 2015 using Survey Monkey and through trained research assistants. A tremendous strength of the project was a culturally-diverse team of community-based research assistants. Supported by a leadership group of 18 organizations and numerous volunteers, the survey reached men in over 35 Alberta localities. Edmonton, Calgary and Sherwood Park were the top three cities that drew respondents.


Alberta Men’s Survey at a Glance

 

Geographic Locations of Respondents

Nationality/National Origins of Respondents

Of the total respondent group, 83 persons (4%) identified themselves as Indigenous. The majority of respondents, 1572 (72%), were born in Canada, and 615 (28%) were immigrants (first generation Canadians). Among the immigrant respondents were Canadian citizens, permanent residents, refugees, temporary foreign workers and international students.
 

Gender and Sexual Identity

Living with Disabilities

 

Mental Health Challenges

More than one out of five (462; 21%) respondents reported that they live with mental health challenges, and the rest 79% (1742) said no (See Figure 5). The top three responses were depression, anxiety, and trauma or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
 

Financial Circumstances

To better understand men’s financial circumstances, respondents were asked to subjectively comment on their financial wellbeing, rather than report their annual income. While a majority of men (80%) stated that they could pay their bills, approximately half (46%) reported that their earnings were not sufficient to meet their daily expenses and retain a safety net of savings. Almost one out of five men stated that they struggled or could not meet their daily expenses.
 

Personal Well-Being

Men were asked to specify the five most important factors responsible for personal well-being and healthy relationships. The majority perceived family (74%) and financial stability (71%) as the two main factors. Friends (53%), a good job (48%) and appropriate and stable housing (45%) were additional key factors.
 

Barriers to Well-Being and Healthy Relationships

More than three out of five respondents (65%) identified financial challenges as the main barrier to well-being and healthy relationships. This was followed by family conflict (55%), substance misuse (46%), an unsuccessful career (45%) and trauma or past negative experiences (44%).

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23% of respondents said pressure to prove yourself as a man is a barrier to their well-being

 

Do Men Need Support for Well-Being and Healthy Relationships?

A highly notable response from this survey was men’s interest in services and supports. Almost all men (96%) reported that men do need supports and services for well-being and healthy relationships (See Figure 9). However, less than one out of four men (24%) stated that they were aware of the services that are available to them. As a consequence, a large majority (76%) did not know where to go and whom to approach.
 

Types of Support Men Would Use

When asked about the types of support men would use, approximately three out of five (66%) stated that they would seek peer support. A substantial number of men also expressed that professional support such as counselling (54%), healthy male role models (46%), financial mentoring (43%), and workshops focused on skill building (41%) would be helpful.

The statements below, shared by respondents, provide examples of the reasons why men identified these support mechanisms.

Helpful people who care about you
— Respondent on peer support
Men need to be shown that it is OK to express fear & sadness to other men. We need leaders willing to role model that behaviour. Honest expressions of vulnerability are true actions of courage
— Respondent on healthy male role models
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Nearly 1 in 3 respondents would not seek supports due to pressures related to traditional masculinity

 

What it Means to be a Man

Men were asked to name qualities that best describe a man; six thousand one hundred and sixty-six words were provided. The research team coded these responses into several categories. Almost 40% of all responses (2379) were grouped under the theme ‘Traditional or Normative Masculinity’ (characteristics usually ascribed to men). This masculinity category contained words or concepts such as “strong; determined; hardworking; father; provider; protector.”

The second most prominent theme was ‘Ethics Masculinity’, which encompassed 26% (1631) of total responses. This category included words or concepts that centered on being a good person, such as “responsibility; dependability; honesty; truthfulness”. ‘Non-traditional or Non-Normative Masculinity’ (characteristics usually ascribed to women) was the third most common theme, representing 20% (1245) of the total. Within this category were words or concepts such as “nurturing; emotional; loving”. Responses categorized under Normative/Traditional Masculinity, Non-Normative/Non-Traditional Masculinity and Ethical Masculinity encompassed 86% of all descriptors. A variety of other descriptors characterized the remaining 14%, including terms related to anatomy, a rejection of gender-specific binary language and gender-neutral characteristics.

Masculinity Descriptors

Most respondents named qualities from multiple categories, indicating that they have a multi-faceted understanding of what characteristics they believe describe a man - acknowledging that men embrace traits beyond normative masculinity. This mosaic of responses suggests that many men may find normative masculinity too restrictive. Understanding men’s perceptions of masculinity was an important aspect of this research, as identity and behaviours are associated with values, beliefs and idiosyncrasy constructed around notions of masculinity.

 

Survey Team

2015

It is our hope that the learning from the AMS will support the efforts of community members, governments and the numerous organizations that are working on the creation, implementation, and evaluation of preventative services that focus on men and boys. The AMS was supported through funding provided by United Way of Calgary and Area, the Alberta Human Rights, Education, and Multiculturalism Fund and The Calgary Foundation to the Ethno-Cultural Council of Calgary, the Alberta Men’s survey is the first of its kind in Alberta in its focus, reach and level of collaboration.