Local authorities seem to be reflecting the recent national emphasis on mental health but not in any depth.
In the UK, 13 men take their own lives every single day. It is the biggest cause of death for males under the age of 35 and appears to be on the rise. It is therefore welcome that 59% of local authorities have suicide as a gendered measure in their JSNA. (This still means that nearly half of local authorities don’t monitor suicide by gender.)
However, although nearly four out of five suicides are male, 72% of people treated for depression are female. Moreover, only a minority of men who took their own lives were engaged with mental health services beforehand. This gender disparity and lack of engagement with services shows why suicide alone is not a sufficient measure.
APART FROM SUICIDE, FEW MENTAL HEALTH INDICATORS ARE GENDERED
Yet very few JSNAs include gendered measures on incidence and hospital admissions for:
- self-harm and mental health,
- incidence of depression,
- generalised anxiety disorder,
- mixed anxiety and depression,
- IAPT referrals.
Additionally, only 30% of local authorities had dementia as a gendered measure. The table opposite illustrates how local authorities have highlighted the suicide rate in males, but not included other indicators of mental illness.
Evidently, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups are content with establishing how many men are dying from suicide, but not why or what can be done to prevent these deaths. Men’s mental health has gained significant prominence nationally and this should be reflected at a local level.
Mental Health Indicators
|Hospital Admissions for self-harm||14%|
|Mixed Anxiety and Depression||9%|
|Hospital Admissions for Mental Health||5%|
|Generalised Anxiety Disorder Incidence||5%|
There are some good examples where local authorities have considered the mental health needs of men in their local area.
Swindon has modelled the prevalence of depression as well as generalised anxiety disorder and mixed anxiety and depression using the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England Survey. Admittedly, it is only an estimate, but it is an attempt to understand male mental illnesses in the area.
This JSNA also has gendered data on the suicide rate and hospital admission rate for self-harm and suicide for Swindon. They accessed the information through the Health and Social Care Information Centre and Secondary Uses Service in order to determine their priorities for men’s mental health.
Sheffield has written a separate needs assessment solely on the mental health of the young population in Sheffield. ‘Children and Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health: Health Needs Assessment’ analyses the mental health of boys in Sheffield. The assessment contains data on the prevalence of mental illness in boys in Sheffield including depression and anxiety disorders. It also contained gendered data on suicide rates within Sheffield.