Leading charities call for a Men's Health Strategy

02/11/22 . News

A consortium of charities, academics and experts have written to Secretary of State for Health Steve Barclay to 'formally ask the Government to begin the process of creating a national Men’s Health Strategy'.

The letter is the latest stage in the campaign for a men's strategy to run alongside the Women's Health Strategy that was promised by the government in March 2021.

The Forum have been working alongside others including the Men and Boys Coalition, the ManKind Initiative, Global Action on Men's Health, the Men's Sheds Association, the Oral Health Foundation, Orchid, Andy's Man Club, Survivors Manchester, Future Men, Menspeak Men's Groups, Chaps and the Fatherhood Institute.

Improve the economy

Their letter applauds the introduction of a Women's Health Strategy and points out that there is no evidence that the current conditions/disease-based approach to health is improving men's health any more than it is improving women's. It says a Men's Health Strategy would improve the lives of men and boys, improve the lives of women and girls and improve society and the economy.

Forum patron Professor Alan White said: 'We are now in a position where the Secretary of State must take seriously the weight of support behind a Men's Health Strategy for the UK. With so many key organisations and individuals getting behind the Men's Health Forum campaign, the momentum towards having a coherent approach to the health challenges facing men is getting stronger and the result more inevitable.'

The letter in full

October 26, 2022

Dear Secretary of State,

Many congratulations on your appointment.

As the national charity whose mission is to improve the health of men and boys, alongside the additional signatories below, we are writing to formally ask the Government to begin the process of creating a national Men’s Health Strategy.

This would not only improve the lives of men and boys, it would also improve the lives of women and girls. It would also improve society and the economy.

Men’s health in England is in a critical situation across a wide range of conditions with particular challenges including disproportionately high rates of suicide, cancer mortality, diabetes, deaths from COVID-19 and heart disease. Even today, nearly one in five male deaths are under 65 and there is a large male mortality gap (27 years) between the richest and poorest parts of England. These are also clear health inequality issues.

The current Government’s individual conditions/disease-based approach is not improving men’s health and there is no evidence that it is. We applaud the recent introduction of the Women's Health Strategy, launched in August 2022 and would strongly urge the Government to begin the process to develop a men's health strategy for tackling specific health matters unique to men, who represent 49% of the population.

There are examples of successful local, national and international men’s health strategies that demonstrate the effectiveness of how such an approach works. We and our third sector colleagues will be able to share these models with you and would be able to discuss how we can develop a model that works for men in England.

There have also been two important reports supporting the need for a Men’s Health Strategy from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Issues Affecting Men and Boys, and the Men’s Health Forum (attached). These both stated that a strategy improves men’s health by better addressing and preventing the range of underlying causes and barriers that have a negative impact on men’s health. A gender-informed approach to men’s health would also lead to a more gender-responsive health service.

There are a large number of organisations and senior health professionals who are invested in developing a men’s health strategy and would work proactively, positively, and in partnership with the Government with respect to the formation and delivery of such a strategy. For instance, Prostate Cancer UK, the UK Men's Sheds Association, Andy’s Man Club and the Patients Association also support the campaign’s aims for better outcomes for men’s health.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to supporting the creation of the first Men’s Health Strategy and commit to working together with the Government in improving the health of men and boys in our country.

We would welcome the opportunity of a ministerial round table discussion with you or one of your colleagues and look forward to a favourable and positive reply.

Yours sincerely

List of signatories

  • Dr John Chisholm CBE, Chair, Men's Health Forum
  • Martin Tod, Chief Executive, Men's Health Forum
  • Mark Brooks OBE, Chair, ManKind Initiative
  • Damian Dawtry, Coordinator, Men's Health Unlocked
  • Dan Bell, CEO, Men and Boys Coalition
  • Ali Orhan, Chief Executive, Orchid Cancer Appeal
  • Peter Baker, Director, Global Action on Men's Health
  • Professor Walter Busuttil, Director of Research & Clinical Training, Combat Stress
  • Chris Booth, Clinical Director, CHAPS Men's Health Charity
  • Charlie Bethel, Chief Officer, UK Men's Sheds Association
  • Nigel Carter, CEO, Oral Health Foundation
  • Liam Kernan, Therapist, Therapy for Men
  • Mary Curnock Cook CBE, Chair, The Dyson Institute
  • Jonathan Prince MBE, Chair of the Trustees, Blue Ribbon Foundation
  • Anthony York, CEO, Boxing Futures Ltd
  • Duncan Craig OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Survivors Manchester
  • Owen Thomas, Managing Director, Future Men
  • Dr Jeremy Davies, Head of Communications, The Fatherhood Institute
  • Corrinna Lawrence, CEO, Feel Good Factor (Leeds)
  • Nik Harwood, Chief Executive, Young Somerset
  • Nav Mirza, Chief Executive, Dads Unlimited
  • Phil Roberts, CEO, JourneyMEN CIC
  • Tim Watson, Educational and Child Psychologist, New Horizons Psychology Ltd
  • Richard Skelton, Child and Educational Psychologist, The Educational Psychologists
  • Jon Whitfield, Director, The Octopus Foundation
  • Paul Bannister, Founder Director, ManHealth CIC
  • Wendy Barr, Health Project Manager, Rugby League Cares
  • Errol Murray, Founder, Leeds Dads
  • Mike Bell, Equi-law UK
  • Joe Kemp, Senior Community Development Worker, Touchstone - Leeds
  • Joyce Pooley, Director, JourneyMEN
  • Kenny Mammarella-D'Cruz, Founder, MenSpeak Men's Groups
  • Sabrina Mullins, General Manager, Andy’s Man Club
  • Professor Alan White, Emeritus Professor of Men's Health, Leeds Beckett University
  • Professor Steve Robertson, Emeritus Professor of Men, Gender & Health, Leeds Beckett University
  • Professor Ben Hine, Professor of Applied Psychology, University of West London
  • Professor Nicola Graham-Kevan, Professor of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire
  • Professor Paul Galdas, Professor of Nursing, University of York
  • Dr Elizabeth A. Bates, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Cumbria
  • Dr Caroline Flurey, Senior Lecturer in Health Psychology, UWE, Bristol
  • Dr Naomi Murphy, Consultant Clinical & Forensic Psychologist
  • Dr Jennifer Mackay, Principal Lecturer, Nottingham Trent University
  • Maurice O'Brien, Senior Lecturer (Adult Nursing Studies), Cardiff University
  • Sarah Beeken, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacy, De Montfort University

See the letter and the case in full

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.

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