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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – #Diversity In #MentalHealthCare Matters In The Fight Against #Male #Suicide

Psychotherapists tell me there is a perception ‘feminised’ NHS services can be off-putting for men – this has to change


It’s been called a ‘silent epidemic’, but the #mentalhealth of #men and #boys is high on the public agenda.


#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle


I gave evidence last week to a parliamentary inquiry calling for urgent preventative action against #malesuicide rates. It is a harrowing statistic in the UK that more than three-quarters of those who take their own lives are #males.

The tragic fact is that not nearly as many #men as #women report #depression or come forward to access #mentalhealthsupport.

One explanation for that, which is echoed to me by the #psychotherapists at the UK Council for Psychotherapy, is the perception that NHS services are ‘feminised’, and can be quite off-putting for #men.

When you call a GP surgery to make an appointment, you are often asked what ails you – a reasonable question for busy practices needing to prioritize patients by need.

But imagine you’re a #man who is in despair following redundancy, bereavement or divorce and the receptionist’s voice on the other end of the line is #female. Many would struggle to be forthcoming.

It’s compelling viewing when major #male public figures such as Prince William and England manager Gareth Southgate along with footballers Danny Rose, Thierry Henry and Peter Crouch speak openly about their #mentalhealth and #emotional pressures.

But, frankly, services are not sufficiently tailored to meet the needs of #men who will be inspired to seek them after hearing these VIP testimonies.

There is significant evidence to suggest that symptoms of #depression, #anxiety and other forms of #mentaldistress can manifest differently in #men than in #women and that this is leading to the under-recognition of these problems in #men.

For example, there’s much evidence to show that #men, often taught to bottle up their feelings from childhood, are far more likely to ‘act out’ than verbalize their emotions. The figures for substance misuse, rough sleeping, and risk of committing or being the victim of violence are far higher among #men.

I told the #women and equalities select committee that #men’s emotional wellbeing is a social issue, with complex root causes. To look at it solely as a disorder or illness is missing the point and will certainly alienate many men living with #depression or #anxiety.

#Malesuicide affects all ages and characteristics but especially middle-aged men.  This is often simplistically attributed to ‘traditional’ masculine traits such as stubbornness and self-reliance. But there is a great deal more to it.

Middle age can often expose #men to socio-economic hardship, unemployment and underemployment, relationship breakdown, and lack of social support, all of which are common risk factors for #suicide. As well as that there’s a general ‘dip’ in health among people in their mid-years, compared with both younger and older people.

My organization of some 10,000 members holds a huge repository of knowledge on what it means to be a #man or #boy navigating everyday challenges, like work, family, living in cities, education, crime, and loneliness.

They tell me that #men entering therapy will often ask “Is this normal?” because, unlike many #women, they have not been taught or exposed to the emotional literacy that helps people to recognize when they are in distress.

I told the inquiry that the first and most urgent task is to not ‘lump’ all #men into one single category or assume a one-size-fits-all approach will apply.

We need to look at the journey through the lens of a #man in distress.  What symbols, behaviors and systems will they encounter? Men come into therapy to share experiences and feelings they have never articulated to anyone, even to their closest loved ones.

It’s vital that prospective #male patients feel valued and reflected in the visuals and language associated with the service – which is difficult given the current gender balance of the #mentalhealth workforce.

We can learn much from numerous innovative examples of #mentalhealthservices around the world that have successfully engaged with #men such as Man-up Against Suicide (Canada), Beyond Blue (Australia), Menzone (Bradford, UK) and ManTherapy (Colorado).

What these services share is how they are talking to #men differently, creating #men-only spaces, creating new, atypical therapeutic approaches for #men. Importantly, this helps #men to feel acknowledged and that their feelings are valid.

The NHS and HEE must take proactive steps to encourage #men (and other underrepresented groups) to work in #mentalhealthservices and health services more generally. This requires serious will and some investment. But with the NHS facing a raft of workforce challenges, recruiting more #men will have benefits far beyond enhancing #men’s interactions with services.

It’s vital that the Government, NHS, HEE and regulatory bodies take pro-active steps to fund and promote a consistent model of cultural competence training across the UK for #mentalhealthpractitioners.

Of course addressing gender stereotypes goes far beyond the realm of #healthservices, but there’s an opportunity here for us to be much more mindful of the way gender norms affect interaction with services.

Services like these won’t work for all #men, but we do know that giving people choice over their treatment improves outcomes. If we can create a more representative and better-trained workforce and provide a greater choice of treatments and treatment contexts, we will increase the chance of engaging men in #mentalhealthservices. That stands to benefit us all.

Teen Depressed Talk

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