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Men’s Health Week is an important time to encourage men and boys to value their wellbeing and empower them to optimise it, while examining the factors that can make this task challenging.

While the health of Australian men is better than many — with the eighth highest life expectancy in the developing world — there’s still substantial room for improvement. More men than women die from almost every non-sex-specific health problem, and more men die from diseases that can be prevented1. These health outcomes are further influenced by age, race, sexuality, socio-economic status, geography and disability.

It’s critical to address the excess burden of morbidity and mortality in men, not just for the individual, because it can have a transformative social and economic impact with benefits for women, children and society as a whole2.

 

Some of the stats

Men account for 3 in 5 premature deaths

Around half of Australian men have one or more of 10 common, chronic health conditions

Nearly 1 in 2 Australian males have experienced a mental health problem in their lifetime

3 out of 4 males are considered obese and only half of men are sufficiently active

Only 3% of men eat enough fruits and vegetables

1 in 2 men drink too much alcohol, and 1 in 6 smoke daily

Men are more likely to experience self-injury or engage in high-risk behaviours resulting in accidents, compared to women

More than 1 in 2 Australian men have experienced at least 1 sexual difficulty in the last 12 months1

 

Recognising where the roadblocks are

There is a range of factors that influence the state of men’s health including risk-taking behaviour1, exposure to occupational hazards1, gender stereotypes around masculinity3, help-seeking habits4 and access to appropriate5, effective healthcare6.

There’s an unhelpful misconception that men aren’t interested in their health, which can discourage them from engaging with health services and put unnecessary blame on blokes. Fortunately, with the right encouragement and environment men are more than up to the task of prioritising their health, and nine out of ten men would like to take a more proactive role in their wellbeing7.

Men’s health is a shared responsibility between men, health professionals and the health system. Men need to be proactive in managing their health and make the most of preventative care rather than putting problems off. But equally, health services need to effectively engage men and offer an environment where their needs are addressed when they do come through the door.

 

It’s a team effort

That’s why our focus for Men’s Health Week 2021 is on what it means to have a team. It’s about being proactive about your health and setting yourself up with the support you need now, and for when you inevitably run into life's speed bumps. It’s important to stay connected and seek help early if something is wrong, from a team of people who care about your wellbeing.

From your GP to a colleague, a counsellor to your footy club — depending on what’s happening in your life you'll need certain people, services and information on your team at different times.⁠

 

Highlighting what it means to be healthy

Good health is more than being free from sickness or disease, it’s about being in the best position physically, mentally and socially, to enjoy life and navigate the bumps in the road (rather than breaking down) when they do arise.

Our physical, mental and social health are closely connected — what affects our body can impact our mind and our relationships, while our mental health can influence our physical state. Our connection to others and the people we have around us can be critical for our physical and mental wellbeing. ⁠

 

What can you do to promote Men’s Health Week?

“Men’s Health Week is a chance for men, and their families and friends, to think about their health and the many things they can do to make a difference,” Healthy Male CEO Simon von Saldern says.

There is a range of ways you can do this, whether it’s raising awareness on social media, hosting an event or sharing important information with the men in your life.

Want to make a start right now? Here are some things you can do:

  • Think about who is on your team, who you need to add and how you can stay connected with them
  • Consider how you can be more open to talking about physical, mental and social health with the men in your life
  • Learn about men’s health issues and your risk factors.

Get your hands on our free resources to help you spread the word this Men’s Health Week.

 

 

[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. The health of Australia’s males. Cat. no. PHE 239. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 27 May 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/men-women/male-health

[2] Baker, P., Dworkin, S., Tong, S., Banks, I., Shand, T., & Yamey, G. (2021). The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2014;92:618-620. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.13.132795

[3] Voget et al., 2011. “Boys don’t cry”: Examination of the links between endorsement of masculine norms, self-stigma, and help-seeking attitudes for men from diverse backgrounds. Journal of Counseling Psychology

[4] O'Brien R, Hunt K, Hart G. 'It's caveman stuff, but that is to a certain extent how guys still operate': men's accounts of masculinity and help seeking. Soc Sci Med. 2005 Aug;61(3):503-16. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2004.12.008. Epub 2005 Feb 16. PMID: 15899311.

[5] Smith, J., Braunack‐Mayer, A., Wittert, G., & Warin, M. (2008). Qualities men value when communicating with general practitioners: implications for primary care settings. Medical Journal Of Australia, 189(11-12), 618-621. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb02214.x

[6] Yousaf O, Grunfeld EA, Hunter MS. A systematic review of the factors associated with delays in medical and psychological help-seeking among men. Health Psychol Rev. 2015;9(2):264-76. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.840954. Epub 2013 Oct 16. PMID: 26209212.

[7] Global Action on Men's Health. (2016). Men’s Health: Perceptions from Around the Globe. Retrieved from http://gamh.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Men4Selfcare_Report.pdf

Keywords:
General health

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