What is Men’s Health and Why is it important?
Men’s Health is about exploring the causes and factors behind what makes boys and men healthy, or not healthy, in Australian society. This Men’s Health Week, we want to ensure we are working towards engaging men in all services, including mental health services. We want to find out what we can do to get men and boys involved, engaged and participating in mental health, to break the stigma and normalise the feelings that we commonly have.
What makes someone ‘healthy’?
‘Health’ is a dynamic reality shaped by many factors. An individual’s health is the product of many aspects of their life. Many of the problems and issues we see that impact on the health status of men and boys in Australia are the results of compromised life environments. The nature of these environments is that they are inter-connected so damage to one environment often results in cumulative stress and health deterioration. These environments include early childhood, education, work, relationships, housing, food choices, transportation and social connections.
Male health at a glance – table
The table below gives an interesting snapshot into the health of our Australian boys and men.
Why is men’s health so important?
Men’s health has become an important issue for several reasons. Throughout life, males experience higher rates of illness, accidents and premature deaths than their female counterparts. There is also a very large stigma around men’s mental health, with some people believing men shouldn’t experience difficult emotions, that they need to “man up” or “have some concrete” or “don’t be soft”. These views can be unhelpful and sometimes harmful, resulting in clinical symptoms rather than feelings normal in response to difficult situations.
More and more, there is a shift towards changing these views. There is education in schooling and there are a number of very passionate well known speakers (like actors and musicians) who actively work towards sharing their experiences in order to combat these beliefs.
How can we help?
During Men’s Health Week, the focus is on increasing the conversation with men about their health. It’s about improving access to and engagement with health services and finding out how we can better support men and boys in the community. To make an impact, this week, start a non-judgemental and supportive conversation with the man or men in your life about their health. If you have a son, a nephew or a grandson, normalise their feelings, show them how to cope with ‘normal’ difficult emotions and teach them that their health and wellbeing is just as important as the person (male or female) sitting next to them.
We all have a part to play supporting the men in our lives. Let’s use this week to kickstart the conversations!
At The Psych Professionals, we have psychologists determined to make a difference to the health (both physical and emotional) of our male clients. The biggest challenge for males generally is to recognise that they need support and that it is OK to admit and accept such.
Reference: Men’s health at a glance (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare)