AUTHOR: Dr Ian Walsh
Men’s health week runs this year from the 11th to the 17thth of June. We need to collectively take a moment to focus on this important area of health, irrespective of our gender.
For the men out there, it’s an opportunity to reflect upon your own state of health, both physical and mental, and work out whether it’s time to make an appointment to see your GP for a checkup. For the women, often the responsibility falls on your shoulders, having to gently prod and encourage the men in your lives to get checked.
And it shouldn’t just be a once off. It should be the start of a lifelong investment in your own health. Because as a rule, men are neglectful of their own health, for any number of reasons. And statistically, men’s health typically is poorer than that of our female counterparts.
So let’s look at a few statistics regarding men in Australia and their health (information sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics):
- Males have a life expectancy of 4.5 years less than a female born at the same time
- Every hour, 5 men die from a disease that could have been prevented through early detection and intervention
- Each day about 32 men are told that they have prostate cancer
- More men die every year from prostate cancer than do women from breast cancer
- Rates of suicide among men are nearly four times higher than among women
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in males aged 15 to 45 years
- By the age of 75, nearly half of all men will have been diagnosed with cancer at some stage of their life (women comparatively are under one third)
- Men are less likely to consult a GP compared with women, particularly amongst younger men
- Men aren’t doing enough physical activity (50% <65 years old exercise sufficiently, dropping to 25% for >65)
- 70% of adult Australian males are overweight or obese
- Men are more likely to engage in risk behaviours – smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, illicit drug use
- 50% of men have experienced violence as an adult
- 86% of men aged over 65 have a chronic disease
- 50% of men aged 16 to 85 have experienced a mental health disorder
- 50 % of adult males reported some sexual difficulty in the previous 12 months
- Males access Medicare at a lesser rate than females do (33% less services per year)
So what can you do, either for yourself or the men in your lives?
Make or encourage them to make an appointment to see their GP for a once over. All it takes is a little time invested in the most important asset in your world. And that’s YOU!
I personally have my own GP, who I can honestly state has helped me through a number of difficult times in my life. And I have sought the advice of a counsellor, when I couldn’t find the answers I was seeking and needed the advice of a professional. And there is no shame associated with putting your hand up and asking for help when things get a bit or a lot tough, because there are people out there willing and able to assist you get through those dark patches.
I have also sought information from other sources, to make the journey a little smoother and easier to understand. From reading “The Happiness Trap” and “The Reality Slap” by Dr Russ Harris, to watching the brilliant “Man Up’ series by Gus Worland on ABC, through to listening to the “Be A Man” podcast series. All of these have given me something to carry with me as this journey of life continues, hopefully better equipped at each stage to deal with the next hurdle.
There are also a number of great websites available to visit that deal with men’s health, particularly mental health. From Men’s Health Week to Gotcha4Life to Beyond Blue and Lifeline – all of these, plus many others sites are out there to provide you with the information and support that you require, particularly if you are reluctant or hesitant to talk to anyone.
So the take home message is get in and see your doctor – nothing is too embarrassing to raise in that consultation, and we are able to provide the support and direction that is required to keep life on a healthy path, even if that’s not the path it’s presently taking!
By Dr Ian Walsh, SmartClinics Clayfield