Next Steps Needed to Improve Male Mental Health

Next Steps Needed to Improve Male Mental Health

Mental Health

Next Steps Needed to Improve Male Mental Health

More work is necessary to
improve mental health for men and boys, says Dr. Sal Giorgianni in an editorial
for the American Journal of Men’s Health. The first editorial of six, “The Crisis in Male Mental Health:
A Call to Action,”
was published in
the journal July 7.

Giorgianni based the series
on the landmark conference “Behavioral Health Aspects of
Depression and Anxiety in the American Male
,” funded in part through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute
(PCORI) Engagement
Award Initiative. The conference, held in May 2019, was arranged by the Men’s
Health Network, and brought together 25 experts in mental health and men’s

Among the next steps that
Giorgianni recommends:

  • Systematic
    review of current screening tools, specifically focusing on their effectiveness
    for boys and men, and their utility in clinical and nonclinical settings
  • Reevaluation
    of professional, clinical and community guidelines for screening for boys and
    men throughout their lives
  • Development
    of degree and postgraduate training programs so clinicians can better care for
    boys’ and men’s behavioral health
  • Legislation
    to support fundamental principles of wellness care for boys and men
  • Better
    understanding of the role of telemedicine and telehealth technologies to
    provide screening, ongoing care and patient and community support for
    behavioral health issues
  • Begin
    a collaboration of public and private sector programs to understand more fully
    the link between behavioral health in men and boys and their interactions with
    the criminal justice system.

“Jails have taken the place
of many U.S. mental hospitals,” Dr. Jean Bonhomme notes, “leading to costly but
ineffective interventions.” Bonhomme is the president and founder of The
Black Men’s Health Network
, and a
board member of the Men’s Health Network.

These steps are needed
because male mental health and a rise in suicides across the U.S. are linked,
he notes. Citing a 2018 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
report, “Suicide Rising Across the U.S.:
More Than a Mental Health Concern
Giorgianni notes that the report showed that males are as much as seven times
more likely to commit suicide than females. Moreover, he says, male suicides
are likely to be violent for both the victim and others. Suicide, the CDC
report says, is the sixth leading cause of death for U.S. males.

The COVID-19 pandemic has
also had broad impact on male mental health, Giorgianni says, worsening an
already dire situation. The pandemic’s effect on socioeconomic circumstances
compounds issues related to male mental and physical health.

“We urge those who craft and
fund research initiatives to dedicate significantly more of their resources to
male-focused research, including work that covers the diversity of contemporary
male life experiences,” Giorgianni says. “We ask those in the public and
private sectors to understand the impact the health disparity has developed in
males, and to increase programs and services specifically crafted and delivered
to boys and men.”

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Robin Mather is a third-generation journalist with more than 40 years’ experience working at major daily newspapers and national magazines. A Michigan native, she now lives in Arizona

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