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MPs to examine men’s mental and physical health in new inquiry

20 July 2023

The Health and Social Care Committee has launched a new inquiry with a focus on men’s physical and mental health to understand the drivers behind higher levels of disease and a fall in life expectancy. MPs will consider whether men are more reluctant to seek help on health issues and how this might be addressed.

Among concerns on health outcomes, men face a 37% higher risk of dying from cancer. When it comes to premature deaths from cardiovascular disease, 75% are among men. Four in five suicides are by men, with suicide the biggest cause of death for men under 35.

The inquiry is seeking evidence on a range of areas that may contribute to male life expectancy being consistently lower than that for women, with a gap of nearly four years. In 2019-20, life expectancy for men in the UK was 79 years and for women, 82.9 years. One in five men dies before the age of 65.

Chair's comment

Health and Social Care Committee Chair Steve Brine MP said:

"Some aspects of men’s health are just too rarely talked about, yet it’s clear there are a number of areas where the outcomes for men’s health should be a cause for concern, particularly in heart disease and cancer.

It may be that men just don’t come forward with health issues, perhaps they think some things are too embarrassing to talk about. We’ll be looking at what needs to be done, whether it’s about how to access health services or getting more men to come forward for screening for example.

Concerns about men’s mental health, taking into account the worryingly high rates of suicide among younger men, are key to this too. We know that life expectancy for men is consistently lower than that for women and it’s falling. We want to find out can be done to address the underlying issues to improve prospects for men and all aspects of their health."

Terms of reference

The Committee invites written submissions addressing any, or all, of the following points. Evidence should be submitted by Friday 8 September. Written evidence can be submitted here of no more than 3,000 words.

  • What factors drive lower, and falling, male life expectancy and what action would have the biggest impact on addressing this?
  • What is known about why men have a higher risk of dying from cancer and how can this risk be reduced?
  • What action is needed to improve early detection of cancers specific to men, for example around awareness of symptoms, issues with screening and encouraging men to come forward?
  • With nearly half a million men living with or after prostate cancer, how well does aftercare support ongoing symptoms of male specific cancers and how could this be improved?
  • What is driving higher rates of suicide amongst men and how could this be addressed?
  • What factors contribute to men using health services, like general practice, less often than women and what impact does this have on men's health outcomes, for example from cardiovascular disease?
  • What role do community and sport-based projects play in reaching men at high risk of isolation or poor mental health, and how can it be ensured that this support is spread equitably across the country?
  • What are the challenges in delivering health equity across different population groups among men and how best can they be addressed?

Further information

The Committee hasn’t looked at the subject of men’s health in recent times though it considered body image issues among men and boys in its inquiry and report on the impact of body image on mental and physical health.

Image: Parliamentary copyright