Don't wait for men to engage - especially on mental health

MEN'S HEALTH MANIFESTO: Remove the barriers, reach out and make the most of it when men do engage

Remove the barriers to using health care, mental health and preventative care - especially for men of working age:

  • Sort out opening times and access so they work for full-time workers
  • Improve online access, booking and other interaction
  • Stop using drug or alcohol problems as a barrier to mental health treatment – invest in integrated care for dual diagnosis
  • Deliver on the recently announced access & waiting time standards for mental health
  • Tackle stigma and discrimination, especially in the workplace and especially for men with stigmatised problems such as mental health, eating disorders, breast cancer and sexual violation
  • Greater use of self-help groups and peer-led services.

Reach out proactively:

  • Take services to where men are: workplaces, online, pubs, sports grounds, betting shops, prisons etc.
  • Where it’s not already happening, extend occupational health to include screening and preventative health measures
  • Create a ‘Mental Health Diversion Duty’ in the criminal justice system and emergency care – intervening more effectively to reduce the number of people arrested under Section 136. Deliver national coverage by 2017
  • Increase health check outreach and uptake amongst men
  • Start bowel cancer screening earlier, especially for higher risk men, including MSM.

Make the most of it when men do engage with health services:

  • Include cancer symptom awareness, mental health, sleep apnoea and erectile dysfunction in health checks
  • Special focus on high-risk infrequent attenders
  • Co-design new services with men.

Why is this important?

Health services are still not effectively engaging with men. Especially during working age, men remain less likely to: 

  • attend a general practitioner
  • attend a NHS Health Check
  • opt for bowel cancer screening
  • visit a pharmacy
  • take a Chlamydia test
  • have a dental check-up.

Four in five suicides are male but only a minority of these men were engaged with mental health services.

67% of men are overweight or obese yet only 10-20% of those on NHS weightloss programmes are men.

Research has suggested a link between men’s lower use of primary care and their higher rate of hospital services.

71% of CVD-related deaths under 65 are amongst men14 and the NHS Health Check programme focuses on circulatory conditions, a major killer of men, yet only 35% of local authorities know how many men they reach with the
programme,15 and within those authorities only 44% of health checks are conducted amongst men.

 Men are 80% of suicides, but only 36% of IAPT referrals


> Next section: Design targeted programmes for the men and boys in greatest need

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator