Leeds NHS Men’s Health Group
Celebrates First 12 Months

HealthMental Health

The Men’s Action and Awareness Network (MAAN) was set up just over twelve months ago at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTHT). Started by colleagues David Goulding and James Royal, the support group meets monthly and currently has around 60 members on the mailing list.

James, who is BME Health & Wellbeing Lead at the Trust, said: “It’s a sad fact but a lot of male health issues go under the radar due to lack of awareness. We set up MAAN as we wanted a way to address this by bringing together colleagues and starting the conversation on men’s health.”

In the UK, 1 in 5 men will die before the age of 65. 76% of people who die by suicide in the UK are male, and suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 35. Men are also more likely than women to be overweight or obese.

James added: “With issues around mental wellbeing and cardiovascular health being ever more important in the workplace, these worrying statistics around men’s health shouldn’t go overlooked.”

The support group meets during a lunch hour every month, and will usually have a guest speaker to talk about a particular topic relating to men’s health.

Promoting active fitness, sport and exercise has been a key item on the group’s agenda, and the network has taken advantage of the city’s many sporting links over the past year.

Earlier in 2022, David, who is Service Manager for Abdominal Medicine and Surgery at the Trust, interviewed former Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward about his challenges of retiring at a young age due to a brain injury, the impact this had on his mental health, and how this led to the development of his Mantality programme. The interview was an early success for the MAAN group, linking both physical and mental health topics.

Later in the year, MAAN linked up with Leeds United Football Club to deliver an exclusive Q&A with LUFC and Germany defender Robin Koch. Over 100 LTHT staff joined the virtual call to hear from the player’s insights, who joined straight from practice.

MAAN has also partnered with LUFC Foundation, with co-ordinators of the fitness programme presenting to the group a number of times over the year. The partnership resulted in an exclusive competition for LTHT staff, providing winners unlimited access to the Foundation’s fitness programmes over three months last Spring.

David said: “We know physical activity is hugely important for both physical and mental health. With Leeds a renowned centre for sporting activity, it was an opportunity we jumped upon, and I’m grateful to everyone from our sporting partners who have given up time and opportunities to MAAN.”

2023 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for MAAN. Most recently, in February, an extra special meet up was arranged to hear from guest speakers Stevie Ward and Leeds actor Paul Fox, a keen advocate for men’s health. Staff from LTHT got the chance to hear personal stories from professional sport, acting, men’s health, and how this shaped both Stevie and Paul into the people they are today.

Paul said: “Men’s mental health is such an important conversation to have. Traditionally it was something of a taboo subject but thanks to the fantastic work that David and James are doing with the MAAN group and others like it, the subject is becoming much more accessible and one that is easier to talk about. I felt incredibly honoured when David asked me along to the network to speak, knowing the impact this group and others like it has on its members. I feel proud to be a very small part of something that does such important work.”

Since starting in late 2021, the group has covered a whole range of subjects, including prostate and testicular cancer, suicide prevention, toxic masculinity, mindful alcohol consumption, fitness, and various aspects of mental health. A recent presentation saw a colleague present on the mental health benefits gained from fishing.

David said: “The benefits of working within a large NHS hospital trust are that we can draw from a huge range of medical and clinical expertise. We’ve had guest speakers from nurse specialists, doctors, and other professionals who really know their topic. With more than 20,000 staff at LTHT, we also have a wide array of personal interests and hobbies that colleagues talk passionately about.”

He added: “This year we’re really keen to increase the membership of the group with LTHT, and widen our opportunities for partnerships across Leeds and beyond. Whether that’s sport, physical health, mental health, hobbies, or any other topic relating to men’s health, we’re keen to get involved.”

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