Men's health guidance

Guidance to help organisations and employers recognise and implement measures to support men’s health.

8 March 2024

This guidance supports organisations and employers to implement measures which support men’s health and drive cultural change to help beat the stigma which surrounds this topic.  

According to gender statistics released by NHS Digital in 2021, over 23 per cent of our NHS workforce are male or identify as male. Out of a total of 1.35 million NHS staff, there are approximately 320,000 men working in the service.

It is therefore imperative, as outlined by the Men’s Health Forum, that NHS organisations put a strong focus on men’s health and wellbeing. 

Statistics show that on average: 

  • men’s life expectancy is 3.7 years less than females 
  • men go to the doctor less than women 
  • men are three times more likely to die from suicide, than women.  

The NHS people plan focuses on prioritising ‘looking after our people’, to ensure staff are safe and healthy at work and can deliver safe and high-quality patient care. Here we outline ways in which health and wellbeing leads, managers and employees can take collective responsibility to support the physical and mental wellbeing of men working in the NHS. 

It is important to note that the topics covered are not exhaustive of men’s health issues, but highlight the main areas our network has told us they would like support with.  

If there are any topics you would like us to include, or if you would like to share how you have supported men’s health in your organisation, please get in touch.  

How your organisation can support men’s health 

1. Identify the need  

  • Think about metrics that will help you gain insight into men’s general health in your organisation. You could look at the electronic staff record (ESR) system to find out the number of males, or people that identify as male. Look at sickness absence data to understand absence rates and any patterns in reasons for absence in men.  
  • Take a look at your NHS staff survey data and consider the feedback from colleagues. 
  • Look at variations in relation to demographics such as age and think about how this might impact your target audience, the most appropriate interventions and channels of communication.  
  • Complete the NHS health and wellbeing framework diagnostic tool to self-assess your organisation against each section of the NHS health and wellbeing framework. It provides a view of where your organisation should prioritise its efforts and will give you an understanding of health and wellbeing within the context of your organisation and diversity of your NHS people. 
  • Work with your occupational health team to identify referral reasons for men and understand the impact on sickness absence, the types of support staff have received and what is available to them. This may help you understand if available support such as counselling is being sufficiently used and the timescales in which support is made available. 
  • Source new data to enrich your findings. A good mix of quantitative and qualitative data is helpful, but keep in mind survey fatigue and that you may be able to gain a deeper understanding of needs simply through having meaningful conversations with staff directly about the changes they would like to see and why. You could invite your colleagues to focus groups to discuss this or through your regular wellbeing conversations. 
  • Find out your most accessed men’s health and wellbeing intranet pages and resources to help you determine which are most relevant.  
  • Reach out to union representatives in your organisation to discuss general themes that may be arising around men’s health and what staff would like to see more of. 

2. Put a plan in place 

Based on your organisational data findings and guidance from the NHS health and wellbeing framework diagnostic tool, map out tasks and activities you intend to do to support men’s health:  

  • Think about your audience and how you may be able to best target interventions to their needs. 
  • Use academic research and ideas from your networks to support your approach. 
  • Set realistic timescales for achieving your goals. 
  • Start thinking about robust ways in which you will measure the success of your overall strategy and individual interventions.  
  • Think about any restrictions or barriers that may come up and how you might tackle them. 

Organisational culture 

Does your organisational culture support the implementation of your agenda? Are basic needs of men (and staff in general) such as access to sufficient breaks, food and water being met? There is more value in your psychological interventions if you first ensure the culture can support these basic needs. Without these factors, staff will have less capacity to respond to higher-level interventions relating to their psychological and self-fulfilment needs.  

Resources, capacity and infrastructure 

Consider the sustainability of your agenda in the long term: 

  • Do you have the time, resources and financial input to deliver a campaign? 
  • Are relevant resources available for cross-team collaboration to achieve your goals? Have you got the organisational infrastructure to aid effective implementation? For example, a communications team that has capacity to mark relevant awareness days. If not, have you got wellbeing champions who can help you spread the word? 

Support from your board  

Engaging your board is a great way to gain buy-in from senior leaders to support your agenda on men’s health. Remember to use evidence from the data you have gathered and research on what has previously worked for other organisations to support your business case. Use our get your board on board guidance to help you ensure you have their support before implementing your plan. 

It is important that your leaders role model supportive wellbeing, so encourage your leaders to actively promote men’s health. Active support from leaders at the top is more likely to influence organisation culture and encourage a positive attitude to supporting this.  

3. Implement your plan  

Collaborate with other teams 

Connect with your colleagues, such as organisational development, communication, occupational health, human resources and learning and development teams to use their expertise to help you implement your plans. For example, working with the learning and development team to create educational tools and training for staff and managers on supporting men’s health.

Connect with your occupational health team to ensure their services adequately support men’s health needs. Work with your trade union representatives to align your approach to amplify and support the voice of men in your organisation. 

Ensure your resources are accessible and up to date 

This includes internal and external resources and advice on your digital platforms, as well as any paper resources such as posters or leaflets that may be present in the workplace. Ensure accessibility of these resources for all staff, considering that clinicians and other NHS roles may find it easier to access resources/support on wards and in their work areas rather than online. 

Upskill your managers 

Upskill managers to allow them to spot signs of poor mental and physical wellbeing in men and to focus on prevention interventions. Ensure they are aware of resources or appropriate teams they can signpost their staff to. 

See our health and wellbeing conversations guidance for advice on how you can successfully embed these regular conversations into your organisation. 

Set up training to help managers understand key topics in men’s health and when to consider interventions such as referrals to occupational health. 

4. Engage your staff  

Get your staff involved in implementing the agenda to keep them engaged. Below are some ideas of how you may be able to do this.  

Set up a safe, inclusive space for discussions  

Research has shown the importance of providing a safe space for men to feel comfortable with sharing personal issues. This can help with continuity of discussions around men’s health, breaking any stigmas and keeping the focus relevant by gaining feedback in real time about their needs. 

Familiar settings and those which allow for anonymity can help overcome the stigma often associated with talking about mental health and foster the building of trust, which is known to develop slower in men, especially in those part of marginalised groups. 

Health and wellbeing leads could consider offering this virtually or in a non-formalised setting to ensure inclusivity of individuals who may otherwise not attend.  

Encourage participants to drive the agenda 

Give network members autonomy and control to plan the agenda and determine how the group is run. This can help foster engagement, interest and participation. Keep in mind that not all males necessarily identify with male-perceived themes, and stereotypes and expectations may sometimes be damaging. 

Research conducted by the Samaritans found there is no ‘one-size fits all’ for supporting men and their wellbeing. Ask participants what topics they would like to cover.  

Plan events alongside key campaigns, awareness days and annual health and wellbeing initiatives  

Target as many of your audience as possible and increase engagement through addressing a wide range of topics such as alcohol awareness week and world suicide prevention day. You can use our calendar of national campaigns to inspire you. 

5. Communicate effectively 

  • Use wellbeing champions in your organisation to spread the word and share messages about new initiatives to support men’s health. Take a look at our guide on how you can introduce health and wellbeing champions into your organisation. 
  • Find out the communication methods staff are most responsive to in your organisation. Link with your communications team for advice on what has worked well in the past. 
  • Consider your audience and how you are most likely to reach them. Are you aiming to reach a particular subgroup or is it relevant to all men in the organisation? For example, research on the successful mental health promotion with men (Robertson S, 2016) shows that younger men tend to prefer technological forms of communication, whereas more senior males often prefer face-to-face. 
  • Ensure your messaging/communication is inclusive. Encourage trans men, non-binary people and women to join the network. Reiterate in communications that the discussions which take place in networks are confidential - to help encourage participants who may be apprehensive about sharing personal experiences. 
  • Provide regular updates on events and campaigns taking place. Sharing staff stories and personal experiences with men’s health and how new interventions are supporting them can foster engagement and demonstrate you have implemented what staff have asked for. Our NHS networks have reported a particular staff interest in senior leaders sharing personal experiences.  

6. Evaluate the success of your strategy  

Ensure you use robust evaluation methods to measure the success of your individual interventions and your overall strategy. By considering what success will look like from the start and having measurable objectives, you are more likely to understand the real impact of your strategy. You can use our evaluation guidance to help you. 

Top tips for health and wellbeing leads  

  • Work with your OD team to shift towards an organisational culture that does not stigmatise talking about and addressing men’s health and actively encourages organisation-wide engagement with the topic.  
  • Ensure line managers have training to recognise, support and signpost staff who may be experiencing issues related to men’s health. 
  • Ensure your wellbeing offer has a wide range of easily accessible, widely promoted and supportive resources staff which can be signposted to.  
  • Establish working conditions that promote good mental and physical health for men. This could include flexible working practices to ensure a good work-life balance and a commitment to compassionate leadership
  • Policies, events and networks should be inclusive and reflect the needs of men from a variety of backgrounds and with a range of different experiences. 

Topics of interest and helpful resources 

In the sections below, we have collated relevant topics of focus you may want to consider as part of your support for men’s health. Please note it is not an exhaustive list, so it is worth adopting a consultative and localised approach to meet your organisational/staff needs. 

  • One in eight men in England has a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), as outlined on the Mental Health Foundation website. However, men are less likely to go to the doctor than females so it is likely this figure is a lot higher, with many cases of mental health issues in men going unreported and undiagnosed.

    We know suicide is the largest cause of death for men under the age of 50, with higher rates in some ethnic minority communities. It is therefore important to empower staff to be able to assess suicide risk in colleagues. You can read about how University Hospitals of Northamptonshire NHS Group supported staff who were at serious risk of suicide in this case study. 

    The Samaritans has dedicated resources on its website focusing on middle-aged men and suicide, as well as outlining suicide risk factors by drawing on their research and recommendations to support males.  

  • Excessive drinking is more prevalent in men compared to women and is associated with significant risks to men’s health and safety (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020). For instance, excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of many cancers (eg mouth, liver, colon and prostate), and males who have died by suicide are more likely to have been drinking prior to the suicide/suicide attempt.

    More specifically to the workplace, research has found that alcohol misuse is significantly related to problems with employment. It is essential that line managers can signpost staff to help and resources around alcohol intake when asked for support around this issue. 

    Drinkaware offers facts, advice, support and tools to support individuals and their families/friends.  

  • According to statistics collected from the UK Addiction Treatment Centres

    • men have a higher tendency to use recreational drugs than women 
    • men have more severe drug addictions than women 
    • more men than women die from taking drugs.

    Employers have a legal duty to protect employees’ health, safety and welfare. Understanding the signs of drug and alcohol misuse will help to manage this health and safety risk in your workplace, regardless of your employees’ gender. 

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has useful tips when developing a drug and alcohol policy as part of your overall health and safety policy, alongside guidance on communicating with employees and on the law.  

    FRANK offers a free emailing, phone and text service for those wanting information, help and advice about drugs.  

    ACAS has an example of a drug and alcohol policy at work which can be used for guidance.  

  • More than 75 per cent of active online betting accounts are held by men and this is another area which could have a knock-on effect on men's mental health.  

    The NHS has established several gambling clinics, with 15 services now available covering Sheffield, London, Milton Keynes, Thurrock, Bristol, Derby, Liverpool, Blackpool, Preston, Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent and Telford. These clinics provide specialist teams which include clinical psychologists, therapists, mental health practitioners, psychiatrists and peer support.

    Other excellent charities available for support include:

    GamCare - the leading UK provider of free information, advice and support for anyone harmed by gambling.  

    Gamblers Anonymous UK - which runs local groups that use the same 12-step approach to recovery as Alcoholics Anonymous.  

  • The above addictions may have a knock-on effect on an individual’s financial wellbeing, where the added pressure of money worries may perpetuate a cycle of lowered wellbeing, followed by an increase in addiction-based behaviour. 

    A common misconception is that financial wellbeing is not the employer’s responsibility. The reality is that financial wellbeing is a shared responsibility between the employer and employee.  

    The following resources help to address this issue and increase open and honest conversations between employers and employees:

  • The digital weight management programme for NHS staff offers access to a 12-week online weight management plan to support a healthier lifestyle and healthy weight loss.  

    You could consider setting up exercise groups or clubs and events at work which could encourage people to take part and exercise together. NHS employees also have exclusive discounts on some gym memberships, so this is something which could be promoted. 

    Created by the NHS for the NHS, #DoingOurBit is a free fitness platform offering a wide range of bespoke workouts for NHS staff.

  • There are some male-specific cancers which males may feel worried about. Routine bowel cancer screening is available for those aged 60 or above. Raising awareness and having sufficient information about the types of cancers men may feel worried about could be beneficial. The following charities provide a range of support and resources:

  • Andropause

    The andropause, often referred to as the male menopause, is a condition that is associated with a decrease in the male hormone testosterone. A decrease in testosterone tends to happen in ageing males, with males reporting symptoms emerging between 40 and 50 years of age.  

    There are many symptoms of the andropause that males may experience, such as: 

    • muscle and bone weakness/loss 
    • weight gain 
    • insomnia 
    • headaches 
    • decrease in energy, focus and motivation 
    • mood swings including depression. 

    You can read more about andropause on the NHS the male menopause web page.  

    Case study example

    After identifying that 42 per cent of its male staff were aged between 40 – 60 (the expected andropause age), East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust felt it essential that andropause guidance was developed, so employees and managers can support staff experiencing andropause related issues, as well as help create an environment where conversations about the andropause can be instigated. 

    You can read the East Midlands Ambulance Service andropause guidance here. For further information or support on this guidance, please contact Lee Goddard at

    The menopause 

    The menopause could also be an area that impacts on men’s wellbeing. As we know, menopause is not just an issue for people born to the female gender but an organisational issue. For example, if a person’s partner, close friend or family member is experiencing menopause, they may seek information on how to support them or to increase awareness of what they are going through.

    Research has found that a partner’s menopause symptoms can put an emotional strain on a relationship (causing arguments or tension) and contribute to their own sleeping issues.  

    Our menopause and the workplace web page outlines how the menopause is an organisational issue, and that workplaces should naturally strive to make information about the menopause accessible to all staff members, regardless of gender. Organisations may wish to consider holding information or drop-in sessions specifically for males wanting to know how to support someone experiencing menopause.  

  • The office for National Statistics Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) year ending March 2023 shows an estimated 751,000 men aged 16 years and over experienced domestic abuse in the last year; a prevalence rate of approximately 3.2 per cent of men.

    The Mankind Initiative states that nearly half of male victims fail to tell anyone they are a victim of domestic abuse and are nearly three times less likely to tell anyone than female victims. Over 40 per cent of men report mental or emotional problems as a consequence, with over 10 per cent of males attempting suicide as a result.  

    It is important that managers can recognise signs of physical and emotional abuse that men may experience at home and signpost them to appropriate avenues of help. Here are some useful resources and contacts to help you with this. 

    NHS England issued a letter to key leaders in the NHS to remind staff of the crucial signs of domestic abuse and the services available to help them support patients, seek help if they are affected or support colleagues.   

    • Andy’s Man Club offers nationwide talking groups for men. 
    • Men's Shed holds community spaces for men to connect, converse and create, aiming to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. 
    • The Men’s Health Forum contains information, online training and resources surrounding men’s health and wellbeing. It has several downloadable toolkits and posters that cover topics such as stress, weight loss and diabetes.  
    • NHS Practitioner Health is a free, confidential, NHS primary care mental health and addiction service with expertise in treating health and care professionals.
  • South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAST) 

    Just over half the people in SWAST identify themselves as males. The trust's in-house staff wellbeing support service - the Staying Well Service - was developed to bring awareness and education to male wellbeing concerns. Its dedicated intranet section, aptly named 'Testoster-zone', houses a wide variety of information on male health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health, signposting men to information, resources and support. 

    The trust is currently reviewing its suicide resources to raise awareness and help remove the taboo around talking about suicide, and to raise specific awareness of male suicide; the risk of suicide in male paramedics is 75 per cent higher than any other healthcare professional.

    East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

    After identifying that 42 per cent of its male staff were aged between 40 – 60 (the expected andropause age), East Midlands Ambulance Service felt it essential to develop andropause guidance, so employees and managers can support staff experiencing andropause, as well as create environment where conversations about the andropause can be instigated. 

    You can read the trust's andropause guidance here. For further information or support on this work, contact Lee Goddard at

    NHS South Yorkshire ICB

    During 2021/22, the organisation piloted different activities as part of its NHSE Enhanced Health and Wellbeing pilot funding. Activities included a series of webinars aimed at men and hosted by Westfield Health, virtual sessions run by Andy's Man Club, opening up menopause webinars to male colleagues and creating a web page specific to men's health

    During 2023/24 the trust conducted a project to research more on men’s health and how to encourage men to consider their health and wellbeing. The team surveyed male colleagues on what they thought of the pilot scheme and set up a task-and-finish group to look at what could be done in the future. They also arranged virtual Men-o-pause cafes aimed at men and facilitated by male-trained menopause advocates - part of South Yorkshire's Mission: Menopause Project project, which trained male menopause champions and advocates.

    Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

    The trust was aware that male colleagues found it harder to access health and wellbeing support. In response, they introduced targeted initiatives such as walk and talks days, Andy's Man Club sessions and the introduction of male menopause advocates. The team also introduced know your numbers sessions, where they visit departments to carry out basic health checks on staff, including blood pressure and BMI, and to signpost the support available.

    The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust

    In an effort to specifically target male colleagues within wellbeing initiatives, the trust marketed its health surveillance and promotion as 'having a car MOT, having a health MOT - getting your chassis checked'. The wellbeing team engaged with male staff directly, for example hosting workshops and pop-up health checks for male colleagues within estates and facilities. They also organised specific activities such as football tournaments, men's health quizzes, and dad & kid crafting groups.