An email just received from the Men’s Health Forum takes up the remainder of this blog piece:
The Men’s Health Forum would not be able to do the work we do without the support of people who donate, fundraise, buy our materials and support our campaigns.
It has enabled us to research and make most of our health information for free online – to support more men directly and indirectly – and it enables us to work for important changes in government policy.
An important win on men and COVID
For obvious reasons, a particular challenge of the last year has been COVID. It’s hit men particularly hard – we’ve been one of the few organisations globally working on this – and we were especially concerned in December when the government’s JCVI guidance on ‘Priority groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination’ made no reference to the extra risk men face in their overall advice to government.
Thanks to your support, we pulled together a research briefing on the issue and send it through to the decision makers on vaccine policy – and their new guidance – which sets priorities across the whole of the UK – makes an unambiguous statement about the risk that men and other groups face and the need for local bodies to address it:
In addition, data indicate that in individuals aged 18 to 49 years there is an increased risk of hospitalisation in males, those who are in certain black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) communities, those with a BMI of 30 or more (obese/morbidly obese), and those experiencing socio-economic deprivation. JCVI strongly advises that individuals in these groups promptly take up the offer of vaccination when they are offered, and that deployment teams should utilise the experience and understanding of local health systems and demographics, combined with clear communications and outreach activity to promote vaccination in these groups.
Going from men not being listed at all to now being highlighted as a particular risk is a big win. It’s vital that policy makers properly reflect this extra risk in their decisions. It’s also a highly important change which gives us the opportunity to push for stronger action to support men’s health right across the health system. And it wouldn’t have been possible without your support – thank you.
Now we need your help again
Despite this progress, there’s still a LOT to do in the weeks and months ahead. Although the immediate physical threat from COVID may be receding, we’re worried about the long term mental health impact of the pandemic. And, if COVID has shown us anything, it is there are still major challenges to men’s health: strong Men’s Health Strategies across the UK are still desperately needed. Any support you can give us will be vital – especially for the following three priorities:
· A strong Men’s Health Week
Men’s Health Week this year is from June 14-20 and will be focusing on men, mental health and the recovery from COVID. We’ve seen very worrying indicators about men’s wellbeing – such as the big increase in alcohol deaths. We need to make men’s health week this year the biggest ever – reaching as many men as possible – and making sure as many organisations as possible back it – with more materials, more information and more men involved. The more support we get, the bigger we can make it. Please help if you can.
· A new campaign to get UK governments to back a Men’s Health Strategy
We were delighted when the Government announced a new Women’s Health Strategy consultation for England because it shows that they finally get the need for gendered health policy. But we need to move fast and build a strong well-funded campaign if we are going to ensure that the Women’s Health Strategy is followed up by the new Men’s Health Strategy that’s so desperately needed. If you haven’t signed up already, please do so here – but most of all, if you support the campaign, please give now to help us strengthen it.
· Recruit more Men’s Health Champions
Finally, we also need to recruit more health champions. Our work has never just been about changing policy – it’s also been about reaching and supporting men directly. One important piece of progress in the last year has been the success of our men’s health champions programme – with over 100 new champions trained and starting work with male friends and colleagues in the last few months. But we recognise that not everyone can afford it and want to ensure that small companies and charities – and men in greatest need aren’t left out. We also want to start an online ‘chat to a champ’ service where men can get the support they need from other men who’ve been trained to help – reaching more men and helping more men. We are currently looking for sponsorship to make this possible – but any direct support to the programme will also be much appreciated.
Finally, we sometimes say (not entirely in jest) that you can tell we’re a men’s health charity because we never ask for help. But more and more people are helping us with regular or one-off donations as well as through fundraising and buying our materials – and it’s helping us make a bigger difference and help more men. We genuinely don’t ask for help very often, but it’s still the case that nearly one man in five dies before the age of 65 and we remain determined to change that. Any help you can give today will make a vital difference.
Thank you again for your support
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