A leading committee of MPs has called on the government to introduce a men's health strategy.
The recommendation - a long-time policy of the Men's Health Forum - is one of a number made by the Women's and Equalities Committee in a letter to the government that marks the end of their review of the mental health of men and boys. The review also wants to see more research, better male-friendly mental health services and more work to tackle harmful gender stereotypes.
Maria Miller MP, the committee's chair, makes five specific suggestions:
The Government needs to improve its current understanding of the specific causes and impact of poor mental health for men and boys, by commissioning appropriate pieces of research.
More work needs to be done to tackle harmful gender stereotypes, both in educational settings and in the media, which prevent many men from seeking help for their mental health.
The Department of Health and Social Care should give serious consideration to creating and implementing a National Men’s Health Strategy, like those launched in Ireland and Australia.
There is a need to create and implement easy to access, male-friendly mental health services, with improved signposting.
There is an urgent need for the Government to do more work with targeted groups of men and boys, including those from ethnic minority groups and the GBT community, in order to understand the specific causes of mental health issues. It should also offer more targeted mental health support these groups of men and boys.
The Forum's CEO Martin Tod was one of the expert witness called before the enquiry. You can view video of the section that includes his testimony below.
The Forum have launched a petition calling on the next government to act. Martin Tod said:
We've been working to get a National Men's Health Policy and this is a big step forward. It's also great to see the calls for more research and targeted male-friendly services. Whoever wins the current election needs to take this challenge seriously and get behind this policy.
Former Forum CEO and director of Global Action on Men's Health Peter Baker has become our petition's first signatory. He said:
This high-level political support for a national men’s health strategy in the UK is very welcome indeed. I led an independent review of Ireland’s men’s health policy in 2015 which showed very clearly that an over-arching policy can identify men’s health as a priority area, create a vision for men’s health, inspire health practitioners and advocates, and act as a significant catalyst for change.
Because of the dissolution of parliament for the election, the full report of the inquiry is unlikely to be published for some time.
It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.
Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.