73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men. It’s a dramatic statistic amongst a number of alarming figures about men’s mental health compiled by the Men’s Health Forum campaign which you can look at: https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health.
Hearing a recent news story about former footballer Clark Carlisle got me thinking about risk factors amongst men and how these might be managed.
FIRST A FEW MORE STATISTICS FROM THE CAMPAIGN ABOUT THE STATE OF MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH:
1 in 8 men currently have a common mental health disorder
About 1 in 11 men are alcohol dependent
Only just over 1 in 3 referrals for psychological therapies are for men
So, the picture is one of more problems and
less help. Thankfully there has been an increase in publicity about men’s mental health issues recently, highlighting some of the reasons behind it and raising awareness so men might be encouraged to seek help more quickly.
Just to go back to the story of Clark Carlisle. Following a career as a professional footballer, he has had a successful career as a pundit and commentator on TV and radio. He also suffers mental health problems and has been very
active in promoting men’s mental health issues through his dual diagnosis foundation. (Here dual diagnosis means people suffering drug or alcohol problems alongside a mental illness). Last month he went missing from home causing
great concern amongst friends and family. Thankfully he was found very quickly, no doubt helped by news publicity. This highlights the role in managing risk of the importance of what are called protective factors. Identifying
these is a crucial part in the assessment and management of risk.
So, what are they? These are the strengths or strong points about someone and their life that can be used to protect them against major risk factors that might lead to them harming themselves. So, thinking about Clark Carlisle
and others, the following could help someone be protected:
A loving wife or partner
A network of supportive friends
Being well-known and thought of in your community
These don’t stop someone becoming mentally unwell but can be drawn on to get someone to seek help early on. Drawing up a list of protective factors alongside a list of risk factors is the first step in working out how risks can
be managed. Of course, many men might not have these strengths. Changing patterns of employment and relationships mean that strengths might have to be sought elsewhere, such as developing trusting relationships with health
and care workers, and maintain regular monitoring and review of someone’s mental health.