International Men’s Health Week – Why is it so important and what can we do?

International Men’s Health Week is celebrated between the 14 – 20th of June each year, to raise awareness of the staggering health inequalities that men face. Men’s Health Week intends to shine a light on common, preventable health conditions that men face every, day and encourage early detection and intervention of these conditions. 

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the health status of Australian Men is generally poorer than that of Australian women. Men have a lower life expectancy, are more likely to have more than 1 of the 10 selected common chronic conditions, participate in risk-taking behaviour, as well as take their own life, all while being far less likely to visit health services. It raises the question, why do these inequalities exist and what can we do better?

The reasons why men face such disparities in health conditions is multifaceted. Factors such as lifestyle attitudes and behaviours, social and cultural norms, health literacy, access to services, as well as economic and environmental influences can all contribute. It can be recognised however that Men account for a staggering 64% of the 26,700 potentially avoidable deaths in Australia in 2018. 

Better Health Vic records that when compared with women, men visit the doctor far less frequently, experience shorter visits and tend to visit when their illness is in its later stages. This all has serious implications for when it comes to treating conditions, especially those which are preventable through individualised care or accessing primary health care services, with early detection and intervention. 

Your mental health can heavily influence your overall health and wellbeing, with men more likely to bottle things up than women. According to Beyond Blue, on average men make up seven out of nine suicides every single day, with one in seven men experiences depression or anxiety (or both) each year. Like any other health condition, several factors can contribute to poor mental health, however providing male-friendly and approachable services, along with changing in the stigma surrounding mental health can significantly improve these statistics. Opening the conversation and educating men on how to effectively manage their mental health and where to access services, can significantly improve their overall quality of life and wellbeing. 

International Men’s Health Week is about taking a holistic approach regarding the wellbeing of men, and isn’t just about thinking, but is also about doing. So, what can you do to provoke thought and discussion around the health and wellbeing of men this week?

- Host a BBQ with your loved ones and mates – break the stigma and get the conversations going!

- Encourage those close to you to get active and create healthy habits – set in a time for weekly ‘walks and talks’ 

- Encourage the men in your life to set reminders to book in for recurring health checks related to but not limited to, annual skin check, prostate health, and heart health. 

- You don’t have to be an expert, have the solution, or be a man to start the conversation, but grabbing a coffee and having a healthy chat can be lifesaving. 

- Have a look at what events are in your local area on the official Men’s Health Week site. 

- Promoting improvement in men’s health isn’t just a one week a year occurrence, participate in fundraising events or even create your own! These can include Movember, the city to surf, a Golf fundraising day, trivia night or raffle. 

Men’s Health Week is a fantastic opportunity to highlight and promote awareness around the key issues surrounding Men’s health, their needs, and their perspectives. It’s also about recognising the courage, strength, and importance of the men in our lives and within our communities. It’s about keeping our loved one’s healthy, happy, and safe.