Hope for Progress on Men’s Health in Leeds

Barry Ewart co-ordinates the Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN), and agreed to do us a guest blog about the work they do. He says:

Potentially exciting times for Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN) as we have just got Leeds City Council’s Scrutiny Committee to agree to examine men’s health as part of their investigation into, ‘Narrowing the Gap’ in the city.  We are also working with Public Health and one of their officers now attends our meetings.

Members of the 'Wild Bunch' ecotherapy and philosophy group

Members of the ‘Wild Bunch’ ecotherapy and philosophy group

If you want general information on men’s health then the National Men’s Health Forum website is very useful see www.menshealthforum.org.uk/   In Leeds we are also lucky that Leeds Met. University hosts The National Centre for Men’s Health and this is led by Professor of Men’s Health, Alan White and a small team of researchers see www.leedsmet.ac.uk/research/mens-health.htm

Some further good news for LMHN is that we have just acquired a New Chair in Claude Hendrickson from the Race Card Project based at Leeds West Indian Centre and we are to now have Executive Committee meetings of the officers in between our quarterly meetings of the Network.  We also hope to have guest speakers at future meetings to cover topics such as ‘Men and Gambling’, ‘Homelessness and Men’ (hopefully with someone from The Big Issue) plus someone from one of the Clinical Commissioning Groups in Leeds so that we can hear how they may be commissioning services for men in Leeds, and as always we are open to ideas for topics from members.

We are currently planning for The White Ribbon Campaign 16 days of action around the 25th of November 2013 (this aims to get men to address issues of domestic violence by men) and we hope to have a city centre walk starting from the White Ribbon Tree in Park Square.  We further hope to have a celebrity from Emmerdale Farm joining us on the walk and there may also be a seminar on men’s health at the Centre for Men’s Health, Queen Square, following the walk.  We will as usual also be encouraging voluntary groups to do something around The White Ribbon days of action and we hope to get schools, libraries and children’s centres to do something such as wrapping a tree with white ribbons which they have done in previous years.   We hope to finalise our plans very soon and for further information on The White Ribbon Campaign see www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk

Also for anyone interested, ‘Leeds Let’s Get Active’ has just been launched and this is aimed at people who may not do any physical activity and there is free use of Leeds City Council leisure centres during selected activities.  See www.leeds.gov.uk/llga or e mail:  rachel.brighton2@leeds.gov.uk

Finally our next meeting of the Network is on Wednesday the 4th of December, 2.00pm at Leeds Civic Hall and anyone interested in men’s health is welcome to attend.  You can also join Leeds Men’s Health Network which is free by just e mailing me at: b.r.ewart@leeds.ac.uk

With best wishes, Barry Ewart, Secretary, Leeds Men’s Health Network.

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Physical Health Symptoms

Why is a mental health charity campaigning on physical health? Isn’t that all sorted out by GPs? These are some of the questions I’ve been asked while campaigning on physical health. I’m an Activism Officer at Rethink Mental Illness and I’ve been looking at why people with severe mental illness usually have poorer physical health than the rest of the population – yes there’s lots of stats to prove that!

One of the problems we’ve seen is that symptoms are not always taken seriously by healthcare staff. So someone goes to the doctor and tells them what’s physically wrong and the doctor assumes that it must be caused by their mental illness.

I know one woman who was told for months that her intense abdominal pain was all in her head. It turned out she had gall stones and a diseased gall bladder!

I’d be interested to hear if this happens in Leeds. Have you had staff tell you that your physical symptoms were down to your mental illness – and were they right or wrong?

Many people do get psychosomatic symptoms, such as tummy ache from anxiety and it must be very hard for doctors to tell the difference. But then people with mental illness are just as likely to get appendicitis, irritable bowel syndrome or chrons disease as anyone else. So it’s not a clear cut issue. What’s your experience of this?

www.rethink.org/ph
twitter: @MHActivismNorth

Guest posts welcome on Leeds Wellbeing Web

The Wellbeing Web is an exciting new project in Leeds – and we would like to invite YOU to get involved!

The Wellbeing Web is a blog where individuals can contribute information, stories, pictures or films about places and activities in Leeds which help maintain their wellbeing. The aim is to create a fantastic online resource where people can share their experiences of staying well in Leeds.

It’s about giving people a voice to tell their own stories and the story of their city through their own eyes. AND WE WANT YOU TO CONTRIBUTE!

This is an open blog which is a resource for anyone with mental health difficulties to contribute to.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure how to write, or video – we can help you! In conjunction with People’s Voice Media we’re running community reporters courses which will give you the skills and confidence you need to tell your story.

If you have a story, or would like to write a guest post for Leeds Wellbeing Web – or you’d like to join our community reporters’ scheme, get in touch with us at leedswellbeingweb@gmail.com