By James Capell-Abra (Stress Matters)
Did you know that…
Men’s Health Week falls on 14th – 20th June this year, incorporating Fathers Day in the UK. It’s a great opportunity for us to acknowledge the health issues that affect men disproportionately, encourage men to become more aware of health problems they may have, or could develop, and reduce stigma surrounding doing something about it.
So what are the health issues that affect men disproportionately? Well for starters, 1 in 5 men die before the age of 65(1). It’s well known that females statistically live for around 4 years longer than males on average also(2). Here are some pretty shocking stats from Men’s Health Forum:
- Middle aged men are twice as likely to have diabetes as women
- 67% of men are overweight or obese
- 75% of premature deaths from heart disease are male
- 4 out of 5 deaths by suicide are male
- Men are twice as likely to have liver disease
When it comes to Covid, men are also twice as likely to die of Covid-19 compared to women of the same age(1).
A lot of the increased risk comes from physical factors such as being more likely to smoke, to eat too much red meat and salt, to eat too little fruit and veg, not exercise enough and drink too much. But we’ve got to ask ourselves why this is the case?
Could the differences between the way in which males and females approach mental health be a big part of the reason? We know that physical and mental health are very strongly linked. Is it poor mental health that’s causing males to excessively use coping strategies that are increasing their risk of poor physical health? Looking after our mental health is vital to our overall health. This is a significant way that we can help to encourage guys to improve their overall health.
One of the possible reasons that males and females approach health and stigma differently could be that women typically see health professionals for routine appointments more than guys such as for contraceptives, smear tests, maternity care and mammograms. Perhaps this means that they are more likely to seek earlier help if they do have any health problems. This can lead to guys experiencing more stigma about going to the GP and not getting a diagnosis and treatment plan early. One thing you can do to help challenge this stigma and raise awareness is to become Mental Health Aware. This half day, accredited course gives you the basics around understanding mental health, looking after yourself and reducing stigma.
This year, Men’s Health Forum who spearhead Men’s Health Week are encouraging everyone to try the CAN DO CHALLENGE. Based on The Five Ways To Wellbeing, the idea is to try something from each of the five ways each weekday of Men’s Health Week.
This simple challenge can help us all open our eyes to the things we can be doing everyday to improve our wellbeing and health and maybe give us some ideas about how we can encourage the guys in our lives to look after themselves and not feel shame or stigma about seeking help for any health issues they might be experiencing.
This article was first published on the Stress Matters blog, which you can access here, for this and more fantastic content!