Male health is a complex area of medicine that is often pushed to the wayside. The impact of poor planning for male health concerns recently came to the fore as 40 year American Psychological Association study concluded that masculinity is harmful – to mental and physical health. Backlash ensued, according to USA News, but this sort of openness is arguably just what LA needs – out of every 100,000 male deaths in LA, 17 of those are through suicide, according to American’s Health Rankings. With national resources under the squeeze, what can the city do to help men address their health needs and concerns?
Finding out what is needed
Tackling any mental health challenge is complex given the huge range of factors that contribute to mental health conditions. There are the psychological causes, such as upbringing, trauma, and life events; but physical factors contribute, too. For instance, one study conducted by Slovakia’s University of Bratislava found that low levels of testosterone can influence mental health, and that replacement therapy is a good idea if the condition is found. While subtle, this is one of many factors that make forming a single policy difficult. This is one of the major challenges facing LA; as the LA Times have reported, the city has hundreds of millions of dollars ready to deploy, but no agreed strategy for reaching that point.
Learn about the community
With resources stretched due to the halt on new mental health schemes, the burden has fallen on other public protection agencies. The police are at the forefront of this, and have, arguably, risen to the challenge. Since 2015, a unit of LAPD have been attempting to find care for those with mental health illness – rather than jail time.
Taking this inspiration further into the community is important, and is an approach favored by a few groups. Of note are WhyWeRise, who focus on young men in the community. They advocate that through taking a grass-roots approach, with volunteers and professionals knowing well the issues their fellow members of the community are facing, a much better outcome can be had.
Affecting long term change
The foundations of a strong community and awareness of what exactly constitutes mental illness will create a strong core to long term change. However, real longstanding change arguably requires input from the lawmakers and authority figures in charge of the state. Fortunately, this seems to be idea within Los Angeles and wider California. Gavin Newsom has gained wide media attention for an ambitious budget, and within this is a special measure designed to provide much greater levels of mental healthcare – especially to homeless people. This is notable as up to 51% of homeless people are men, according to Cultural Weekly, and 33% of all homeless people have mental health conditions, according to the Treatment Advocacy Centre. Simply put, extra funding will help to create systems to give those in need what they require.
Mental health affects everyone, but there is a potential epidemic where men are concerned. The reasons why are varied, but a lot of it comes down to the availability and quality of healthcare. Through community schemes, better planning and a bigger budget, LA will be able to do more for those with mental illness in the years to come.
Cassandra Winter is a professional writer and editor. After a career in PR for an arts charity, she now focuses on writing about her favourite topics from public art to restoration and events. When not working she loves swimming, hiking and quiet nights in with her family.