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 health.

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.”

Robin Mather

View posts by Robin Mather
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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