As our R.A.I.S.E campaign highlights men’s mental health needs, Lucy Hughes, CEO of BACP organisational member Mankind UK, talks about 1in6 an innovative resource designed to help overcome barriers to therapy for male survivors of sexual violence.

The route to therapy can be fraught with apprehensions, fear and uncertainty for anyone. In our work at Mankind UK, we see that additional stigma, embarrassment and shame prevent men and boys from seeking help and support following unwanted sexual experiences.  

A further challenge for men is that because the creation of sexual violence support has been led by the women's sector, lots of areas still don't have equivalent services accessible to men. 

Mankind UK was started in 2000 by a group of therapists whose male clients were coming to them to talk about their experiences of rape or sexual abuse but weren't able to access local sexual violence support services. 

The group were based in Sussex but chose the name Mankind UK, in recognition of a wider national need for specialist support for male survivors of sexual abuse, which they were ambitious to address. Market research shows that in the UK one in six adult men has experienced a sexual crime although most don't report it, so police data have the figure closer to one in 25. In spite of this high prevalence, there are still only a handful of services designed by and for men.

Research shows that males have different preferences in how they seek help. For example, they often choose to spend considerable time researching and reading about the things they are struggling with, before taking the step of calling a helpline or speaking to someone.  

So in 2019 Mankind UK with a team of men's services established 1in6, a website that provides male-centred information about sexual violence, its impact, and a range of support and options for people to explore. It includes self-help tools, videos, links to accessible services, and an explanation of what counselling is and what clients can expect from therapy.  

It was designed by therapists and male survivors using research about gendered approaches to service delivery. Mankind UK is continually seeking to improve equity of access to services and supports research into further barriers some men face. I want to highlight Dr Ken Widanaralalage's work at King's College London to address the overlooked experiences of Black survivors and explore the role culture and ethnicity play in the journeys of these survivors. They're keen to speak to therapists about their experiences of working with men from communities of colour and other minoritised ethnic groups.  

Mankind UK is leading a Home Office-funded consortium of five male-centred survivor services (We Are Survivors in Manchester, Survivors West Yorkshire, First Step in Leicester and London-based Survivors UK) to deliver online counselling to men living anywhere in England and Wales. We are open to receiving referrals via the 1in6 site.

Mankind UK is also a founder member of the Male Survivors Partnership which leads on research, campaigning and advocacy to improve prevention and support for male survivors of sexual crimes.  

The Partnership has produced a Male Quality Standards framework, which the 50+ members of the Partnership use to benchmark their work against an independent evidence base and improve and evidence the quality of male-centred service provision. Details of the services in the Male Survivors Partnership which has adopted the standards are listed on the 1in6 website.

To learn more on this topic please contact Dr Kennath Widanaralalage's on the King's College website for more information.