MENGAGE: PRACTITIONER PERSPECTIVES ON MALE HEALTH WORK IN THE UK
Male health improvement work in the UK lacks the framework and rationale for work with boys and men that a national male health policy, such as those implemented in the Republic of Ireland and Australia, can provide. Men’s health is not a normalised part of the UK public health discourse, yet the health concerns affecting men in the UK are comparable to those in both Ireland and Australia. The current UK structure of commissioning of health improvement work by local authorities in the UK offers opportunities for work by charities and private companies where local preventative health commissioners understand the rationale for work with men; however preventative health policy has a focus on single silo concerns such as ‘sexual health’ or ‘mental health’ and health improvement work is largely gender-blind and not gender-sensitive. The available training for both commissioners and practitioners wishing to work with men is limited. Mengage is a small, not-for-profit company established to provide training and resources on male health. The initiative has a focus on putting research into practice, and implementing a social determinants and a salutogenic approach to male health, with boys’ educational achievement being a significant area of work. Mengage provides workshops for teachers on improving boys’ education and a gender sensitive mentoring award, as well as more generic training on male health and sports-focused work. The article describes the work of Mengage and issues encountered working in a health environment where male health has little recognition in policy as a distinct subject, and no established, consistent program of training for practitioners to address boys and men’s differential concerns.
Keywords: male health, mens health, boys, education, health improvement, prevention, training, social determinants, salutogenic approach, mentoring