This week is Men’s Health Week, and while it is important to shine a light on this important cause, every week should be equally important. Injury, illness and chronic disease figures are alarming in the male population (aged 16-85), with 1 in 2 Australian males suffering a chronic health condition Cancer, Cardiovascular disease and mental health issues (including substance abuse) are consistently the leading contributors to premature death and reduced workforce participation.
Cancer- Prostate and colorectal (bowel) cancer are the most commonly detected cancers in men, both of which respond well to treatment when detected early. Effective screening programmes are available, and while are not necessarily pleasant, 5-10 minutes of embarrassment is worth the effort.
Cardiovascular Disease- In 2016, Coronary heart disease was the leading cause of death for males, almost double the rate for females . Putting aside hereditary factors, males can significantly reduce their exposure to cardiovascular disease through improvements in diet and exercise regimes, as well as the continued downtrend in smoking.
Mental Health- Thanks to the admissions of a number of high profile, elite Sportsmen, mental health awareness has come to attention. Short term, long term or lifelong, the spectrum of mental health issues is vast, but equally is the range of treatment options and medication regimes available. As with any other health issue, the root cause is often hard to identify and most likely due to a combination of factors outside the individual’s control.
Men can take a positive stance towards their own health. Seeking help at the early stages of any health issue can lead to early intervention treatment and a more positive outcome. Slowly the barricades are coming down, with men actively encouraged to discuss their concerns instead of suffering in silence. With record high suicide levels and risk taking in young men, clearly more work needs to be done.
Why not take the initiative within your own workplace? Start up a gym or boxing club? Perhaps a “chill out” space with a game console or a culturally appropriate prayer room would help. The cost can be modest but the potential pay-out in terms of men’s health can be significant.
Do you have initiatives to improve men’s health in your workplace? We would love you to share your experiences.
If you or someone you know is having health issues, including mental health issues these organisations may have useful resources: Beyond Blue www.beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636 MensLine Australia www.mensline.org.au 1300 78 99 78 Lifeline Australia www.lifeline.org.au 13 11 14