Somerset Conference

Putting the men into mental health, Haynes International Motor Museum, October 2015

The Putting Men into MENtal Health conference held on 8 October 2015 at Haynes International Motor Museum, Sparkford was funded by Somerset County Council’s Public Health Team and organised with the Men’s Health Forum.

Brief summary

Timed to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October and attended by 117 people from a wide range of statutory and voluntary organisations, the conference aimed to:

  • Raise awareness among health and other professionals about the need to address men’s mental health and wellbeing effectively.
  • Facilitate new ways of working with men on mental health and wellbeing with a focus on prevention and early diagnosis/treatment and based on the latest evidence.
  • Provide a networking opportunity for attendees and organisations
  • Begin the development of an action plan for implementation by stakeholders and to establish a men’s mental health interest group to support its implementation.

The speakers included Jonny Benjamin (mental health campaigner and producer of the TV documentary The Stranger On The Bridge), comedian John Ryan, Trudi Grant (Director of Public Health, Somerset County Council), David Wilkins (Men's Health Forum Associate), Damien Ridge (Professor of Health Studies, University of Westminster), Ivor Dixon (Somerset Levels and Moors Sheds), Patrick Abrahams (Frome Men’s Shed), Lorcan Brennan (Men’s Development Network, Ireland) and Malcom Rae (State of Mind Sport). 

The conference identified a number of ways to improve men's mental health:

  • There is now good evidence about what works with men in mental health. This is summarised in the ‘How To’ guide for practitioners.
  • It is important for interventions to be positive about men and boys, to respect their maleness to help minimise stigma, and to be ‘solution focussed’.
  • Peer support and a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ approach can be helpful.
  • More services should be delivered where men are, including the workplace.
  • Settings should be ‘safe male spaces’, e.g. sports venues and Men’s Sheds.
  • Humour can be used as a way of raising taboo subjects, including men’s mental health.
  • The Men’s Development Network’s 7 ‘Key Questions’ for men provide a practical basis for supporting men in informal and formal settings and helping them identify their needs.
  • Male-specific mental health policy could guide the development of future work in Somerset, including that of the new Men’s Mental Health Interest Group.
  • The improvement of men’s mental health requires a multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approach.
  • More work is needed with boys, including in schools, to improve their emotional resilience.
  • Further workforce development is required.
  • It is important for professionals to listen to and learn from men’s personal stories about their experience of mental health and wellbeing problems and services.
  • More research is needed into the performance of existing services, how they might be changed and what new services might be needed for men and boys.
Read the full report: Putting MEN into MENtal health

Are you interested in the Men's Health Forum organising a conference for you? Use this form for more information.

Slide show

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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