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.


Boots and all

Playing sport, or even just watching it, has mental health benefits for men, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). “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,” says Dr Paul Jelfs, ABS General Manager of Population and Social Statistics.

However, a lack of social connections can lead to a higher risk of developing a mental health condition.

The findings are part of the fourth General Social Survey (GSS), which the ABS conducted in 2014 and released in late November. It shows that about three-quarters of all men participated in some sort of physical recreation in 2014 and just over half attended a sporting event as a spectator.


Volunteering helps

Dr Jelfs says volunteering helps give men a sense of purpose and enjoyment. In 2014, about 2.6 million men participated in voluntary work, with 78 per cent saying they did so for personal satisfaction or to help others.

“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,” he said. Dr Jeffs says that Australian men generally have a range of opportunities for social interactions.

He says 75 per cent of men have weekly face-to-face contact with family or friends living outside their households, while 89 per cent also have weekly contact through other means such as phone calls, text messaging and email. Other popular activities for men are attending movies (65 per cent), visiting botanic gardens, zoos or aquariums (45 per cent), and attending concerts, theatres or other performing arts events (44 per cent).


Satisfaction rises

Men are also generally satisfied with their lives. In 2014, GSS data showed that on average, Australian men aged 15 years and over rated their overall satisfaction with life as 7.6, which was higher than in 2012 and above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.

In 2012, when asked to rate their life satisfaction, on a scale from 0 to 10, people in countries across the OECD gave it a 6.6 average (where 0 means ‘not at all satisfied’ and 10 means ‘completely satisfied’).

Overall life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than how they feel at present or how they feel about particular aspects of their life.

The ABS says the main purpose of the GSS is “to provide an understanding of the multidimensional nature of relative advantage and disadvantage across the population, and to facilitate reporting on and monitoring of people’s opportunities to participate fully in society”.


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Please note: This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to give specific advice on any particular matter. This publication does not contain tax advice and it is recommended that you speak with a tax specialist about your circumstances. We strongly suggest that no person should act specifically on the basis of information contained herein but should obtain appropriate professional advice on their own personal circumstances. From time to time we may send you informative updates and details of the range of services we can provide. Materials are published by RI Advice Group Pty Ltd. ABN 23 001 774 125 AFSL 238429. The information in this publication is current as of January 2017.