Becoming a Man (BAM)

Location: England

The Becoming a Man (BAM) programme is a mental well-being intervention adapted from the US that aims to support young men’s personal development by taking into account their lived experience and the often difficult environments they must navigate.

The programme is delivered in partnership with Black Thrive and Colourful Minds – find out more below.

BAM logo

Why was BAM established?

BAM is about offering a space for young men to come together and discuss issues in their lives – issues at school, at home, in the park, or on their estate. It’s about helping young boys become men, to decide the values that will help them contribute to society. It’s about supporting these young boys to make decisions about their lives and values, to help them get to where they want to be in 20 years.

BAM in Lambeth was established to support the progress made in the areas of mental well-being and reduce the numbers of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET) and to help address a recent increase in serious youth violence.

Young person, BAM

Who does BAM help?

The programme is for young people aged 12 to 16 who need support with social and emotional well-being and the utilisation of healthy behaviours.

What does BAM hope to achieve?

At the individual level, as mentioned above, BAM works with young men to help them reach their full potential, make effective decisions in their lives, and instil the values and skills necessary to succeed and contribute to society.

At the societal level, in the US, independent research showed a 50% reduction in violent crime, a 35% reduction in overall arrests, and a 19% increase in graduations. BAM in the UK wants to achieve similar results for participants in the UK.

Young boys playing football, BAM

When and where does BAM take place?

The programme is delivered in BAM Circles inside schools. Circles consist of 8 to 12 young men coming together – supported by a BAM Counsellor – to go through the BAM activities and share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in support of each of their own and others’ development.

What does BAM have to do with prevention?

The Becoming a Man programme closely aligns with the Foundation’s prevention strategy in addressing young people's needs in support of improved social and emotional outcomes. Although young people will be identified as ‘in need’ or ‘at risk’, the programme will attempt to nurture capacities to reduce risk and need.

Kids from the Becoming a Man (BAM) project running and playing

Cultural adaption

Many drivers of youth crime or educational attainment are similar on both sides of the Atlantic. Because of this, we are continually working to adapt the programme's content to a UK context. We’ve done this by acknowledging the UK's distinct history and the young people's experiences with the systems they live in. This difference will be a function of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic position, geographic location, etc.

Black Thrive, Colourful Minds and the Mental Health Foundation will work closely with our evaluation partners at Dartington Service Design Lab, the University of Plymouth and the University of Exeter to ensure the local reality and lived experience is central to shaping the delivery and evaluation of the programme.

Young boys at BAM

Delivery partners

Black Thrive is a partnership that aims to tackle inequalities and discrimination that lead to adverse outcomes for Black people in terms of physical and mental health. We are excited to be working with the BAM project in London, where young people will have the opportunity to take control of their own lives and explore what it means to grow in this current climate. We can't wait to hear how the young people share and experience this programme.

Colourful-Minds is a non-profit mental health organisation that aims to improve public understanding of mental health and mental illness through education in the Black and minority ethnic community. Through workshops, training, and research, Colourful-Minds seeks to reduce stigma, prejudice, discrimination, as well as promote equality of access and engagement with mental health services. BAM is a much-needed programme and we are hopeful it will support young men facing the challenges associated with the transition from adolescents to manhood in the context of social deprivation, systemic racism and increasing youth violence.

Related content

Becoming a Man: In conversation

Several Counsellors from our Becoming a Man (BAM) programme, Hugh, Jake, Kohliah, Seán and Ntale, got together to discuss key topics surrounding men's mental health. They draw on their own experiences and the experiences they've helped young men in schools work through as part of the BAM programme.

Blog: Boys, men and mental health

Becoming a Man (BAM) Counsellor Hugh Mayers writes a blog speaking from his experiences working with young men in schools and explores how the landscape for men's mental health is changing.

If you want to learn more about this programme, please contact [email protected] .

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