Overview of project:

In June 2015, the Men’s Health Forum (MHF) and North Somerset Council (NSC) were working in partnership on the evaluation of the MHF’s guide, “How to make weight loss services work for men”.

As part of the wider evaluation offer, The MHF delivered their “Engaging with men to improve their health” training in North Somerset. This training was for a multidisciplinary group which included delegates from the Council, CCG and from service delivery organisations.

The aim of the training was to help professionals have a better understanding of the issues that both impact and affect the health of men and boys.

The objectives of the training were to support professionals to:

  • Understand how language and attitudes around men and boys may affect their health choices and therefore health outcomes.
  • Reflect on how health and social care work aimed at men and boys engages with them [systemic barriers].
  • Explore ‘best practice’ and new thinking around Public Health engagement with men and boys.
  • Explore the choices, concerns and behaviours that men and boys exhibit around their own health.
  • Explore and action plan how to take this learning back to services.
  • Identify how the Men’s Health Forum can provide support

The evaluation showed that the training was well received by those who attended. From this it was suggested that the training be offered to a wider audience of professionals working in similar roles and organisations across the South West. Health Education South West supported the delivery of this wider training offer.

On 28th June 2016 the MHF delivered their “How to” workshop in Taunton to a multi-disciplinary group from across the South West.

How was the need for this project identified?

Men disproportionately have poorer health than women, more than one in five men dies between the ages of 16 and 65, and more than two in five before the age of 75 – with death rates amongst men in the poorest areas of the country being even worse. Men are more likely than women to:

  • smoke
  • eat too much salt
  • eat too much red and processed meat
  • eat too little fruit and too few vegetables
  • drink alcohol and drink at hazardous levels

Evidence from the Tier 2 weight management services suggests that uptake of referrals from men is much lower than from women, even though national projections show that more men than women would be eligible for the offer. Similar gender imbalances are seen within other service areas, and often services struggle to engage with, or recruit, men to participate in programmes, including early intervention mental health services and health checks. Some services still don’t record the gender profile of service users.

Although this training is aimed towards increasing male participation, the delivery is grounded in the realities of the lives of those it will most benefit. The structure of the training recognises and takes into account the accompanying impact of poor male health on women and families and highlights the importance of more holistic and pluralistic approaches to service planning and delivery.

Please give an overview of the project’s benefits, and the aspects of public health it addresses.

Through attendance at the training, professionals will be better equipped to understand the specific needs of men and boys when it comes to engaging with health services. Through this understanding they will be able to more robustly critique current practice, improve the use of data and better identify local needs. They will be able to use this knowledge to increase service uptake and improve outcomes for the whole population. It will also enable practitioners to think about reducing inequalities, and more specifically within, and between, different male population groups.

What was the biggest challenge faced by your project? How was this overcome?

It can be difficult for practitioners to engage in gender orientated service development. However, the male population is often faced by poorer health outcomes, earlier morbidity and death. This training provided an opportunity for practitioners to explore various related issues through gendered approaches. With these approaches being generalizable to the whole population.

What advice would you give to a team managing a similar project?

It was very useful to work in partnership to deliver this training opportunity. North Somerset Public Health team recognised the need for gendered approaches to service planning. The MHF have the expertise in delivering relevant and appropriate training packages and Health Education South West had the resource available in order to facilitate the training’s delivery.

What’s next for this project?

The MHF are available to deliver various training programmes and can tailor these to the needs of specific organisations or working groups. As well as delivering training, the MHF are heavily involved in the development of national guidance, the development of local resources and information, and also in the delivery of support directly to men and their families. For more information about the Men’s Health Forum, please visit their website.

Have you had any feedback (e.g. from colleagues, third-sector partners, members of the public)?

The course was well evaluated, with participants agreeing that the course content met the aims and objectives of the training. Participants comments include –

“Great course, thank you”
“Well done, really useful, clear and delivered in a fun relaxed way”
“Thank you. It was great to have the time to think and reflect on this and how I could tailor services to improve engagement”
“Excellent, very informative. I hope to deliver all that I have learnt today to my health trainers. I hope my manager will be open to changing a few things starting with our leaflets!”

Which aspect of this project makes you most proud?

Participating in the delivery of this training has made me think about and make changes to how I plan and commission services. The knowledge and understanding that it has given me of gendered approaches has enabled me to challenge and critique existing ways of working. It has also helped me to understand how important it is to look at equality and diversity issues from a wider perspective.

How can your public health colleagues get more information about this project?

Again, for more information about the Men’s Health Forum, and the wide variety of support they offer, you can visit their website.

Is there anything else about this project you would like to share with your colleagues across AGW?

Thank you to everyone involved in the planning and delivery of this training, including the teams at the Men’s Health Forum and at Health Education South West.