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28 November 2022

Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month: the message behind the moustache

3 mins

November, otherwise known as Movember, is Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month. While Movember may best be known for an advertising campaign of photographs of men sporting 70s-style moustaches, the message behind the humour is serious. 

What started in 2003 in Australia between two friends over a beer soon expanded to a worldwide campaign. The charity’s focus was initially raising awareness about prostate cancer, but it broadened its outlook on realising that depression and anxiety were significant issues amongst men which were not being addressed.

Men’s mental health and suicide prevention is now one of Movember’s three main focuses.

The statistics analysing the status of men’s mental health are stark and demonstrate why the approach to men’s mental health services needs to be reconsidered.

  • In the UK, on average, 13 men each day take their life by suicide. This is three times higher than the rate for women. Men aged between 40 and 49 have the highest suicide rates in comparison with to the total number of recorded suicides.
  • Men are more likely to face mental health challenges involving homelessness, with men making up 87% of rough sleepers, as well as alcohol and drug dependency, where men are three times more likely than women to be affected. 
  • Despite these statistics, men are less likely to access community-based mental health support. Only 36% of the referrals to NHS psychological talking therapies are for men.
  • However, men are more likely than women to be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983.

This disparity is not just gender based. 

  • According to recent figures released by the NHS for 2021-2022, a black person is four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than a white person, with the highest number of detentions for black males aged 18 to 34 years in comparison with the total number of recorded detentions. 
  • This pattern is mirrored in the community with Community Treatment Orders, which provide a legal framework for compulsory mental health treatment in the community. Again, there is a significantly higher number of orders for men than for women, and the rate of use for a black person is over 11 times higher than the rate for a white person.

Men’s Mental Health Awareness Month plays a vital role in bringing this issue to the fore so that mental health services can find ways to address this disparity. The aim moving forward is twofold. First, men need to access mental health services in the community early on, before an escalation to a mental health crisis requiring detention. Second, community-based mental health services need to be tailored to meet that need and overcome barriers that men face in accessing appropriate treatment.   

Our specialist mental health lawyers are available to advise patients and their families in relation to accessing mental health treatment, as well as all aspects of detention in hospital. To make an enquiry please contact the team here.

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