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Time to focus on masculinity in mental-health training

9 October 2018
No Australian medical schools use masculinity concepts in training
New research by Zac Seidler shows the need to tailor training programs for men's health needs. He says men will seek help more readily when practitioners and services engage with social determinants of mental health.
Zac Seidler is a clinical psychologist and a doctoral candidate in the School of Psychology.

Zac Seidler is a clinical psychologist and a doctoral candidate in the School of Psychology.

 

Men’s vulnerability to poor mental health and risk of suicide is being compounded by training programs offered by Australia’s medical schools and professional bodies, a new study shows.

An audit of available online information from all 18 Australian medical programs in 2017 reveals that “masculinity-based constructs” are rarely integrated into men’s health or mental-health related training.

One program makes specific reference to masculinity in the curriculum.

“The audit of publicly available information from Australian medical programs and their professional bodies reveals increasing awareness of the needs of men. However, there is limited practical inclusion of masculinity models in training and practice,” said study author, Zac Seidler, a PhD candidate in the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney.

“Men account for three-quarters of deaths from suicides in Australia and despite initiatives like beyondblue and headspace promoting help-seeking and early intervention for men and boys, Australian males engage less with mental-health services than their female peers.

“However, men will seek help for mental-health concerns when both practitioners and the services they work in employ practice-changes in line with social determinants of health, such as masculinity.”

Mr Seidler said men present with “complex, diverse and often contradictory expressions of masculinity that are relevant to their health status”.

The study was published in Australasian Psychiatry. Wednesday 10 October is World Mental Health Day.

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