The Men's Health Forum's ambition is to ensure all men and boys - particularly those in the most disadvantaged areas and communities - will have the information, services and treatments they need to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives. To this end, we carry out research, raise awareness, work to change health policy, share and encourage the latest good practice, work with other charities and provide health information and advice to men through our website, our online chat services, Men's Health Week and our Man Manuals.
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How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?
The Men's Health Forum works in five main areas:
- We campaign to raise awareness of key health issues for the benefit of men and their personal networks. In 2016, stress was the focus of Men’s Health Week; what causes it, how to manage it and to talk to others. Through mainstream and social-media the impact was to reach more than 10 million people. By raising awareness The Men’s Health Forum is directly reducing stigma on the topic.
- We encourage help seeking and provide appropriate support through the provision of information and signposting through our website and health manuals, both to local and national services. In addition, we are piloting an online chat service called Beat Stress to middle-aged men that offers information specifically relating to mental health.
- We work with numerous organisations including Mental Health First Aid England, NHS Choices, Mind, Time to Change, The Movember Foundation, PHE and CALM in the area of mental health to spread and strengthen our network and messaging.
- While providing appropriate support to end users, we also campaign for services to better meet the needs of men through publications such as our Manifesto and 'How to' Guide on Mental Health.
- We are data and evidence driven. We provide professionals with health topic specific data that is validated through national agencies such HSCIC and ONS. We have produced reports highlighting key data areas and deepened the evidence through publications such as “Delivering Male” and “Untold Problems”.
What are your current priorities?
Further the understanding of the language men use in talking about their mental health
As part of our ongoing programme to reduce the barriers to men using mental health and well-being services, we are currently researching with men the language they use to discuss their mental health and well-being – with an intended outcome of developing guidance to supporting organisations to attract and retain more men in their service provision and support improved outcomes.
Reach more men with high quality mental health information
The Men’s Health Forum currently reaches more than one million people per year through the website. Men’s Health Week reached more than 10 million people through social media. We intend to continue growing the reach of our mental health content and also make sure it reaches men visiting our site for other reasons.
Drive good practice by disseminating research to mental health commissioners & providers
We will continue to drive uptake and usage of “How to make mental health services work for men”. We will also continue to engage local and national policy makers to support the development of local action plans that tackle men’s health and male suicide.
Improve health outcomes for men through our occupational health offer
Our research shows that workplace stigma and ‘presenteeism’ are two of the biggest barriers preventing men from asking for help. Reaching out to men in the workplace and supporting workplaces to understand and meet the needs of men is an ongoing focus of the Men’s Health Forum. We will continue to do this by building relationships with organisations to deliver health programmes in the workplace – offering training and materials to support the change.
Provide men and their personal networks, accurate and responsible mental health information and encourage them to talk about it
Ensuring that men and their personal networks have the information they need, at the time they need it to make informed decisions regarding their mental health. In so doing, it also support reducing the stigma around men’s mental health by encouraging people to talk about the topic in a responsible and informed way.
What challenges are you currently facing?
Our work to support suicide prevention sits within a wider scheme of work that takes in several health issues. As such we do not currently have a dedicated funding stream allocated to work on suicide prevention and our communications also tackle general health matters, perhaps clouding our role in the topic.
While our overall work is generalist, we also see this as an opportunity to reach men widely. We receive more than a million visitors to our website per year - giving us a good opportunity to communicate mental health messages to men who might not otherwise see them.