Addressing men’s health crisis in Ballarat

Health practitioners in Ballarat, Victoria, are working to set up a new health clinic to tackle a range of health and social issues impacting the men in the city.

The male suicide rate in Ballarat is twice the rate of Melbourne and 65 per cent greater than the Victorian average according to an article in The Courier.

These disturbing figures have led health practitioners in the area to call for a more integrated approach that would encourage at-risk males to get help and provide a link to existing program

Urologist Lachlan Dodds has been a key driver in developing plans for a local clinic that men could access more readily, spearheaded by Andrew McPherson, who helped set up headspace in Ballarat.

“The key is intervening before someone actually successfully takes their life,” Mr McPherson told the The Courier.

“Help people believe they have someone and somewhere to go to start to address some of these issues.

“The other thing is to make sure that you give them something straight away… that we can make that appointment while the person is on the phone or sitting in front of us to get them in relatively quickly to what they need. If you can’t do it quickly, your opportunity is lost.”

The clinic would be staffed by medical practitioners with an interest in men’s health and would facilitate the integration of what is already available in a non-threatening way to men.

Mr McPherson said men tended to seek help on a range of issues when they were at a critical point.

“The more serious it is the harder it is to treat effectively or the more costly or the longer the treatment.”

While suicide rates were high in Ballarat, the rate of male mental-health admissions was lower than the state average. However, drug-related admissions to hospitals and the rate of family violence was higher in Ballarat than other regional areas.

The initiative needs funding to progress and the Committee for Ballarat is considering supporting the venture. Ballarat Community Responds also supports the idea of the health centre and has set up a Facebook page aimed at helping people keep in touch with this initiative and others that address the men’s health crisis. 

“From my perspective, it is about not wanting to live in a community that is complacent about those statistics,” said founding member Maxine Troon.

“This is crisis mode stuff and we are not getting any resources into the community that is desperately needing support.”

FURTHER READING:

Compelled to action as alarming men's health figures back up need for health centre: The Courier 

Ballarat Community Responds: Facebook

Male suicides in Australia up 10 per cent in 2017: AMHF 

Men die six years younger than women. By taking action to improve men and boys’ health, we can create a healthier future for everyone. Find out more about Creating a Healthier Future for Men and Boys: AMHF #Better4Men

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