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University of Westminster recognised by British Medical Journal for Innovative Healthcare Project to treat men’s mental health

26 May 2015

The Atlas Men’s wellbeing service, co-designed by academics at the University of Westminster in partnership with the Victoria Medical Centre, was recognised this month by the British Medical Journal as one of the most innovative Primary Care projects running in the NHS last year.

Shortlisted for the prestigious BMJ award, the Atlas service was set up in response to a need for a targeted service to provide support for men who were suffering from stress and/or distress. In 2013, 78% of all suicides in England and Wales were men, and suicide is the leading cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49. One of the problems is that men are less likely than women to be open about their distress, to seek help for or have their distress recognised, or to be given effective treatment for stress or distress. Atlas, designed for a real-life GP setting, trained GPs to identify the signs of stress in men. Patients were then referred to a service designed especially for men, involving counselling and/or acupuncture.

Over 100 patients participated in the project and the results have been extremely encouraging, with positive patient outcomes and feedback from GPs. The results will be reported in full later in the year. The team are now taking steps to develop the Atlas approach so that more men can receive targeted, appropriate and effective treatment for stress and depression before their problems become overwhelming.

One of the GPs involved in the project said “Some of the patients have responded wonderfully to Atlas and I have seen them far less and they report being much better. One gentleman I was really struggling with, who had kind of very psychosomatic symptoms, palpitations, bowel symptoms and I was seeing him once a week. Cardiologists were involved, gastroenterologists were involved, and I was convinced it was all anxiety based, and he is now 100% better.”

The project was funded by Nelson’s, the UK’s largest manufacturer of natural healthcare products. Robert Wilson, Chairman of Nelsons, said “I want to congratulate you all on a superb achievement in bringing Atlas to the shortlist for the BMJ Primary Care award. It’s a fantastic boost for integrated healthcare”.

The project was led by leading academics at the University in the area of men’s wellbeing and integrated health. Professor Damien Ridge (Dept of Psychology) and Professor David Peters (Dept of Life Sciences) worked in partnership with GPs at the Victoria Medical Centre to design and oversee the service, and it was evaluated by Anna Cheshire (Dept of Psychology).

If you would like to find out more about the Atlas service please contact James Chappell, Business Development Manager, on [email protected].

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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