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This year BABCP’s Annual Conference at Imperial College London saw the us kick-start our 50th anniversary celebrations. For those of you who read my manifesto in 2021, I specifically mentioned men’s mental health as something I would like to focus on during my presidency. And so I was delighted as part of our public engagement, Emdad and Chris (pictured with Professor David Clark, Professor Paul Salkovskis and Saiqa Naz) from a weekly drop-in group I run online were able to join us for a day at the conference. Here they share their experiences of the day.
What was the highlight of the conference for you?
Emdad - I have two highlights from this excellent conference. Firstly, to meet Professor David Clark. Listening to him was an absolute education from beginning till end.
I thanked him by taking three selfies with him.
The confirmation of Saiqa Naz as President of the BBACP was particularly inspirational for me. This is a landmark moment for us all. Saiqa and the excellent management team will herald in a new age, advancing the mission, the theory and knowledge of CBT to a whole new level.
Chris - Listening to David Clark talk about the evolution of CBT. I am in recovery from gambling disorder and alcohol dependence. In addition, I was diagnosed with ADHD last year, when I was 39. When listening to David I was mapping my lived experiences to what he was saying.
I was also thinking about my experiences as a patient and why CBT did not work for me at times. I attribute much of this to my ADHD, and the worry caused when needing to complete tasks between session.
Overall, what did you take away from the day?
Emdad - I’m not a great professional networker but I picked up so many positive recommendations, guidance, advices which I implemented in my professional role and community volunteering.
I feel the resources and spending time with people attending have greatly improved my general outlook.
Chris - Knowledge that I would not have picked up elsewhere and networking opportunities.
What would you like BABCP to focus on moving forward on men’s mental health?
Emdad - As a result of my attendance at the BABCP Conference 2022 I would love for BABCP to engage with grassroots individuals like myself. Community volunteers who would tremendously benefit from training and pairing professionals as mentors, and access to resources.
Having gained insight into the organisation and the people serving within I feel this could be a pioneering opportunity to help communities through supporting and developing individuals at grassroots level.
Chris - Gambling harm is increasing and is not focused on anywhere near enough.
According to the World Health Organization, "The gambling-related burden of harm appears to be of similar magnitude to harm attributed to major depressive disorder and alcohol misuse and dependence. It is substantially higher than harm attributed to drug dependence disorder".
According to Public Health England there are 409 suicides attributed to gambling each year.
In your view, what are the issues affecting men’s mental health that clinicians need to be aware of?
Emdad - I see this on a daily basis and it has become quite a normal feature of my day.
Issues affecting men’s mental health in my experience include the following, the current t cost of living crisis, unemployment, domestic violence, bereavement, homelessness, relationship breakdown etc.
Some young men I come across suffer mental health due to overcrowded mess in their homes, exam stress and family demands/ expectations.
Chris - The harm caused by gambling and how to help patients. Not only those suffering harm due to their own gambling, but also affected others.
My charity Gambling Education Network (GEN) is delivering the first of its kind gambling harm education, using lived experience participants, to 120 medical students in October.
At GEN we are also engaging with Integrated Care Systems to deal with both prevention as well as sustainable aftercare.
What can mental health services to do improve access and recovery rated for men?
Emdad - First of all I believe there needs to be more open conversations to help break the stigma.
Training community volunteers helps put people at ease, to discuss and access support. This is because I’m certain instances they are comfortable and trust people they are familiar with.
Asking grassroots organisations and faith institutions to talk about mental health and services can really help normalise matters.
Accessibility and equal opportunities for everyone is important. It is a mistake to assume that people living with mental health have no feelings because of what they are experiencing, and many have been hurt and dismayed as a result of being privy of being spoken about in a negative sense by trusted people in authority who should be supporting them.
On this note it’s important to be respectful to one and all.
Chris - Make services fun. Engage service users and lived experience during co-production. Would more men attend a woodwork group if: it is set up like a college course; or turn up, make what they like, talk about their mental health and possibly have a BBQ?
Of course, I do not have all the answers as to how we can help men, but I certainly hope here at BABCP we can start thinking about the issues preventing men from accessing care sooner. I no longer want us to accept their high suicide rates or settle for the excuse toxic masculinity prevents them from seeking care. I would like to see what mainstream services are doing and share that learning with us in this magazine! Thank you to Emdad and Chris for attending the conference and their contribution to this article.
This piece was originally published in the September 2022 issue of CBT Today magazine.
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