Men's health is on the ballot paper

23/05/24 . Blog

In surveys of topics of concern to the electorate, the state of the NHS usually figures very highly but ‘health’ more generally does not and certainly not ‘men’s health’. But I’d argue you can’t have one without the other.

Insecure, unstable, poorly paid employment is bad for your health. So those of us interested in the nation’s health should vote for whoever we think will provide decent jobs.

A dirty environment with polluted rivers and beaches with extremes of temperature and weather is bad for your health. That demands we vote for whoever we think will honestly address the climate crisis.

Inadequate benefits and a punitive, cruel welfare system are bad for your health. Best vote for whoever we think will try hardest to repair the safety net and address poverty.

Dirty, insecure, mouldy, poorly ventilated and poorly heated housing is bad for your health. So who will take housing for all seriously?

I could go on. Inadequate education and childcare in facilities that aren't fit for purpose is bad for the health of children and their future health as adults. Bad for their parents too, of course. Lack of healthy food in our shops is bad for our health. Discrimination is bad for our health. Dirty, overcrowded, unreliable transport is bad for our health. The collapse of the British state in so many areas of life is bad for our health.

Prevention better than cure

The issues I've mentioned are some of the main reasons people end up ill. Of course, we can’t prevent every health problem but we can do something about these structural causes of ill health. Indeed, only if we also address these problems are we likely to have any chance of improving the NHS - something all voters say they want. Without action on prevention of ill health, the NHS is doomed.

As a result of the prime minister calling the election sooner rather than later, we will lose some important initiatives on men’s health - the report from the health select committee, the proposed men’s health ambassador, for example - but we hope whoever wins the election will pick these issues up again. Certainly, we won’t be letting up on our campaign for a Men’s Health Strategy. The challenge for us all is to think more widely. What policies are really the healthiest? It’s clear, if we think about it, that men’s health and women’s health are both on the ballot paper.

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