While reported levels of common mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression, are lower among men (13.2 per cent of men compared to 20.7 per cent of women. Source: APMS 2014), it is widely thought that this represents a considerable underestimation of true need. Men’s problems may manifest themselves differently from women’s; their symptoms sometimes go unrecognised and undiagnosed and they do not receive appropriate treatment [source: Mind]. Three quarters of all UK suicides are male.
Mind research in 2009 found that men were considerably less likely than women to seek support when they were worried or feeling low for more than a couple of weeks. IAPT access rates are lower for men, compared to women (average access rates of ~1.5% and 3.1% respectively).
IAPT services for men – examples
Some IAPT services have developed targeted initiatives for men, to address this inequality in access; examples are below:
Kensington & Chelsea
Have a Step 2 group focussed on increasing activity and exercise as a treatment for depression, particularly for those who are on a waiting list for an intervention. It is targeted at men, as they are more likely to engage with this approach. It is linked with the Council’s ‘exercise on referral’ scheme. The sessions have a classroom-based element (using Behavioural Activation to work through barriers), and then an exercise element where the group go for a walk together (or a zoom class in lockdown).
Have a men’s mental health champion in the service who networks with organisations where the service might reach more men (e.g. gyms, rugby clubs etc).
The service provides a number of webinars targeted at men, for example:
- Men’s mental health, which aims to provide psychoeducation and access to CBT strategies that participants can take away.
- Fatherhood and low mood, which explores issues regarding adjusting to fatherhood, such as common experiences and concerns, how low mood can develop and an introduction to CBT and some ways of coping better.
Set up a group for young men (primarily from ethnic minority backgrounds) and called it the ‘Mood Gym’, as an equivalent to them going to a gym to look after their physical health. The service changed the language used to try and make it more relevant and engaging with this group and wanted the group to be run by male staff from within the IAPT service, ideally from an ethnic minority background However, recruiting both men and men from an ethnic minority background to the IAPT staff has been a challenge.
Other examples across London
- Bromley advertised their service on beer mats at pubs, which led to a short-term increase in referrals from men.
- Merton work with the Anna Freud centre to deliver a workshop called ‘Mind the Gap’ supporting fathers with children under 1 year old.
- Richmond identified that referrals for men over 35 were low, so set up a Facebook advert targeting this group.
- Newham have held workshops targeting men.
Useful resources and websites:
There are a number of organisations and charities that now cater for men’s mental health, such as:
- The Men’s Health Forum have produced some guidance on ‘How to make mental health services work for men’, covering the key issues in male mental health, obstacles men experience to using services and what works in male mental health interventions.
- Movember looks at mental health through a male lens, focusing on prevention, early intervention and health promotion.
- A new initiative headed up by Prince William in conjunction with the Football Association is the Heads Up Campaign. This is aimed at tackling men’s mental health issues.
- The charity Mind produced a report following their “Get It Off Your Chest Campaign” which addressed mental health issues in men.
- The Samaritans offer anonymous 24/7 support (freephone 116 123, email: email@example.com)
- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide. Every week 125 people in the UK take their own lives. And 75% of all UK suicides are male.
- Every November is ‘Men’s mental health month’ which could be a good focus of media campaigns by IAPT services. Similarly, this year’s ‘Men’s health week’ (14-20 June 2021) is focussing on ‘Men, mental health and COVID’.