Coded messages? New report on men and suicide

man-390587_1920A new report today on men and suicide prevention indicates health professionals being unable “to pick up or spot the coded ways that men talk about their distress” as a failing of health services in their response to men in a mental health crisis. The report by Professor Damien Ridge from the University of Westminster points to service construction being problematic for men in distress; as noted by Professor Ridge; “the whole system is orientated towards treating women rather than men” – a point often made when considering men’s access to health services.

Whilst we would debate unhelpful terminology relating to ‘toxic masculinity’ (although we acknowledge the cultural/ social influences that can shape health behaviours) as one that shifts blame onto men as being somehow deficient rather than service construction being at fault, for practitioners the important part is asking whether reports and research can inform practice and thus help men.

In this instance we can immediately pick out two areas: 1. a requirement to train health and social professionals in how to communicate with men – and how to listen for indicators of men’s emotional distress; 2. to construct services so that they are male friendly (by which we don’t mean a few copies of Autotrader and Esquire scattered in the waiting room in the hope that it will pack the punters in). The report was carried out by Professor Ridge for CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably, so we can hope that it will inform their practical work with men. An article on the report appears in the Huffingon Post in the build-up to International Men’s Day:

Masculinity Audit into Causes of Suicide