Taipei's Department of Social Welfare (DOSW) on July 25 established the “Men’s Talk” Self-Improving and Family Service Center in a bid to improve mental health services for male residents in the city.

There currently are 14 service centers that mainly support women, including the Women and Family Service Centers, shelters, service centers for immigrant spouses or single parent families.

While men can also seek help from these centers, according to the Teacher Chang Foundation, a counseling service NGO in Taipei, men only make up 5% of the cases in these institutes.

In a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, in 2013 the suicide rate in Taiwan for men was twice that of women. This follows a trend in other parts of the world. In the U.K., suicide causes the most deaths for men under the age of 49. Some also believe that men are more likely to use violence when encountering a mental problem, either harming themselves or others.

Chen Sue-chuan (陳淑娟), director of the Taipei City Center of Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, said that some offenders in domestic violence cases did not know how to express their feelings. Therefore, they harm their family members.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) also said that while domestic violence victims are usually female, statistics from the Taipei City Government showed 10% of the victims in these cases were male.

This March, the DOSW held a "Men's talk salon" that allowed men to share their personal problems. The experience contributed to the establishment of the center.

Officials at the DOSW pointed out that under traditional values, men are expected to be tough and take responsibility of the whole family. This has contributed to men rarely seeking help.

The center will focus on men’s mental health, lifting their ability to interact with others, adapting to the society and sharing their problems. Chen said that fathers of newly born babies may also find the service useful since increasing numbers of men are sharing the responsibility of taking care of children.

The center is located at No. 5, Lane 199, Dunhua N Rd, Songshan District, Taipei City. (02) 2715-1970.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: Olivia Yang