New service to help men to beat stress (before it beats them)

13/06/16 . News

The Men’s Health Forum is launching Beat Stress, an anonymous online chat and email service available to men from anywhere at all by computer, phone or tablet.

The service, which was formally launched during Men's Health Week 2016, enables men to talk about things that are causing them stress in an anonymous and confidential way with health and wellbeing professionals who are able to offer support and signpost to services. 

The service has been set up by the Men’s Health Forum with a grant from the Bupa UK Foundation, in response to the clear crisis in middle aged men’s mental health. According to Government surveys, middle-aged men (45-59) have the lowest life satisfaction and the highest stress levels.

In a recent Men's Health Forum survey conducted by Opinion Leader:

  • a third (34%) of men surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that they were “constantly feeling stressed or under pressure”
  • 9% described themselves as severely or extremely stressed

A recent HSE report indicated 191,000 men a year suffer stress, depression or anxiety caused or made worse by work and if not acknowledged early and managed properly, stress can lead to

  • more serious mental health problems
  • issues at work
  • self-medication with alcohol and drugs

Perhaps most strikingly, the suicide rate is highest amongst middle aged men (45-59). In 2014, it was the second highest level ever – 23.9 deaths per 100,000 population.

Traditional services failing

Traditional services are not reaching men. During the first 3 quarters of 2015, men were only 36% of those accessing psychological therapies.

In a 2016 survey of 1,112 employed men conducted by Opinion Leader for the Men’s Health Forum, 34% would be embarrassed or ashamed to take time off work for a mental health concern such as anxiety or depression (compared to 13% for a physical injury) and given a list of 15 symptoms and asked whether they would time off work to address them, men rated anxiety and low mood (depression) at the bottom

The service is being launched to coincide with Men’s Health Week 2016 which is all about beating stress.

Empowering men

Martin Tod, CEO of the Men’s Health Forum said 'middle-age is a particularly stressful time for men and men are often not very good at getting what they need. We’ve made this service anonymous, confidential and accessible via mobile so that it is easier for men to get support sooner.'

Dr Neil Coulson, Associate Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Nottingham said: 'We know from our research that men may feel more empowered to seek help when it is anonymous, convenient and confidential. This service is a great step forward in helping men to help themselves and with the right support we know that men can and do self-manage stress effectively.'
 
Dr Paula Franklin, Chair of the Bupa UK Foundation added: 'We’re pleased to support the Men’s Health Forum with its Beat Stress programme. Mental wellbeing is a really important issue and many people, particularly men, don't recognise that they need help and so delay seeking treatment.  We hope the Beat Stress programme will be a positive step in helping men across the UK talk about stressful issues in a safe forum.'     
 

Notes to editors

The Men’s Health Forum will be launching the Beat Stress Service during Men’s Health Week, June 13th to the 19th. The focus of this year’s campaign is stress. We all get stressed. The question is: what do you do about it?

Men’s Health Week is a fantastic talking point and opportunity to bring individuals and organisations together to raise awareness of a vitally important issue.

Funded with a grant from the Bupa UK Foundation, beatstress.uk offers a range of support materials and services:

  • Acclaimed content on male mental wellbeing, developed in line with the NHS England Information Standard by and for men in the target group
  • Stress topic specific information
  • Beat Stress, Feel Better - a short, easy-to-read publication pulling together tried and tested methods for beating stress
  • Signposting to relevant services
  • A summary of the most important facts, and research at www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health

For more information, requests for interview and case studies and interviews with health professionals, please contact Chris Stein, the Senior Project Officer at the Men’s Health Forum