June 13th to 19th is International Men’s Health Week in Australia. It’s a week all about urging men to prioritise their health, something that stereotypically they could be better at doing. Especially in Australia where ‘she’ll be right’ is an all too common attitude when it comes to many things including health.
Men’s Health Week is an opportunity to educate the wider public about all that can be done to improve the state of men’s health. Men’s Health Week was created in the United States in 1994 by Congress to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease amongst both men and boys.
While originally focused on physical health, these days mental health and emotional wellbeing play a big part of the week every year. The week highlights the health challenges faced by men in Australia and abroad and is underpinned by events than can be replicated year-round to improve the physical, emotional and mental health of men and boys.
Through a myriad of events, promotions and publicity around Australia, Men’s Health Week is designed to provoke thought and discussion about what needs to be done to improve men’s health. The theme of the week this year is ‘building health environments for men and boys’. It focuses on creating physically, mentally and emotionally healthy environments in the home, workplace and social settings.
In Australia, Men’s Health Week is coordinated by Western Sydney University and you can find more resources about men’s health on their website.
A boy born in Australia in 2010 has a life expectancy of 78 years while a girl born in the same year is expected to live for 82.3 years on average. From the beginning, boys suffer more illness, and accidents and regularly die earlier than females in this country. The male suicide rate is four times the rate of women, which equates to five men taking their own lives per day on average. Meanwhile, accidents, cancer and heart disease also account for the other major causes of male deaths in Australia.
Given that suicide, cancer and heart disease in many cases can come from unaddressed health concerns and lifestyle factors, many of these deaths can be prevented. While we’ve never been more aware of mental health, men are still more likely to face a stigma when coming forward to friends and family or even avoid seeking a professional when dealing with their mental health. The more comfortable boys and men feel about talking to people, be it a professional or someone they trust, the better chance we have as a society to see the male suicide rate lower. That means fewer sons, brothers, fathers, cousins, nephews, partners, and boyfriends taking their lives unnecessarily. Make sure to check in with your family, friends and colleagues, even the ones that always seem happy and really ask how they are. Feeling like you can’t talk to anyone can be an incredibly isolating feeling.
Cancers and heart disease are more about lifestyle factors that you can, in many cases, have more direct control over. Below are a few things to be aware of that can cause not only heart disease but also stroke. It’s also important to know that there is no single cause for conditions like cardiovascular disease, instead, several factors that may increase your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
- Poor diet
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Management of diabetes
- Being inactive
- Being overweight/obese
- Management of depression
If you are wanting to find out more about the above and how you can tackle one or more of them, please see the Better Health website here.
This Men’s Health Week, look out for yourself and others to increase awareness of men’s health and make sure the men in our lives take care of themselves and get the medical assistance they need both proactively and reactionary.
If you would like to discuss your mental health with someone, please contact your local GP or talk to LifeLine on 13 11 14 in Australia.