The Australia Men’s Health Forum (AMHF) is the peak body for men’s health in Australia, representing individuals and organisations working to improve the lives and health of men and boys. It traces its history back to the first National Men’s Health Conference in 1995.
AMHF has a diverse membership with a broad range of interests from physical health issues like male cancers, to social issues like supporting separated fathers. In recent years, improving men’s mental health and preventing male suicide prevention have become increasingly important issues.
Suicide kills nine people a day in Australia, seven men and two women on average. Closing this gap would save the lives of 1,700 men a year.
AMHF is particularly concerned that while three in four suicides are men, up to four in five people reached by Government-funded suicide prevention services are women. The organisations does not wish to see funding directed away from women at risk of suicide, but does want to see a more gender inclusive approach to suicide prevention that takes into account the different needs of men and women.
AMHF supports the recommendations of the PM’s adviser, Christine Morgan, that male suicide “must be called out as a priority for whole-of-government” action and current services and programs funded in suicide prevention should be “evaluated to identify whether, and how, they engage with men”.
As a peak body AMHF has four key strategic objectives that focus on different audiences and stakeholder groups:
A: Awareness Raising of men’s health issues to increase men and boys’ health-seeking behaviour
B: Best Practice, championing male-friendly services and expanding health-giving support for men and boys
C: Connecting the Sector, building the capacity of the men’s health sector and creating opportunities to collaborate
D: Decision Making, working to build policy environments that support men’s health
In 2018, AMHF joined Suicide Prevention Australia with a particular focus on influencing the policy framework around male suicide. AMHF supported SPA’s National Policy Platform (2019) that called for a “whole-of-government” approach to suicide prevention. The organisation is also working with SPA’s policy team and fellow SPA members to help develop a policy position on male suicide prevention.
In the past 12 months AMHF has published two reports that may of interest to SPA members: a 10-step guide to developing male-friendly services; a case for a National Plan to prevent male suicide and a Charter for Men’s Mental Health.
AMHF launched the Charter at a virtual round table event with the Hon David Colemen MP, the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minster for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, in the run up to this year’s Men’s Health Week.
One of the organisation’s current priorities is advocating for more investment in grassroots projects that are designed for men. AMHF is also keen to hear from people who want to develop male-friendly ways of working, so they can help increase the capacity of existing services to reach more men.