Steve Robertson, Professor and Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Men’s Health, gave the keynote speech at a men’s health symposium to launch “Healthy Ireland – Men 2017-2021”, the Irish government’s successor to the National Men’s Health Policy.
Ireland was the first country in the world to adopt a Men’s Health Policy and other countries are now building upon the pioneering spirit and practical learning from the Irish experience. The term of the original Men’s Health Policy ended in 2013 and was followed by an extensive review of its impact, to which Steve contributed.
The review recommended that the momentum and progress which had already been achieved should be continued, and that future work should align to the ‘Healthy Ireland’ framework for action.
Steve has also recently been appointed an Adjunct Professor at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), where he will have annual visits, working with staff there to exchange knowledge around men and public health and also to assist them in improving strategies to develop their research environment and opportunities.
Speaking about his appointment and the launch of the plan, Steve said: “I’m excited about the opportunities provided in holding this Adjunct Professor role at WIT. Ireland has been at the forefront of men’s health policy globally and has some excellent men’s health programmes as part of the policy implementation and staff at WIT have played an important part in that.
“It was also a great privilege to be asked to provide the keynote address at this important event in Dublin. The Centre here at Leeds Beckett has had a long-standing relationship with those involved in much of the men’s health policy work in Ireland, particularly with Dr Noel Richardson from Carlow Institute of Technology and with the Men’s Health Forum – Ireland, so it was particularly pleasing to be involved in the next step of this journey with them and to share in this event.”
In June Steve launched the latest instalment of ground-breaking work, mapping men’s health promotion in the UK on a 10-yearly basis, which revealed important improvements including an increased life expectancy.
Steve first carried out the analysis in 1995. He repeated the process with a health promotion colleague Peter Williamson a decade later, doing the same again with Peter Baker of Global Action on Men’s Health, over the last 12 months.
Key findings of the work, published in the Health Education Journal, show that men’s life expectancy in the UK continues to improve and is doing so at a greater rate than women’s; though a difficulty in male engagement and coping around mental health or distress remains a serious concern, particularly in light of a continued high rate of male suicides.
In addition, it is suggested that male depression is often under-diagnosed as current tools used in some services to screen for this use mainly ‘feminised’ measures and fail to identify depression in men.