Men’s Health Week 2022

This week is International Men’s Health Week (13 June – 19 June 2022).  Men’s Health Week is a time to raise awareness and promote the support of men’s health and wellbeing. This year’s theme is all about building physical, mental, and emotional healthy environments for men and boys in the home, workplace, and in social settings. 

On average males experience poorer health outcomes than females. So, let’s look at some of the mental health challenges and statistics of Australian men. Ten to Men: The Australian longitudinal study on male health highlights: 

  • Up to 25% of men experience a diagnosed mental health disorder in their lifetime, and 15% experienced a disorder in any 12-month period[1]
  • Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health disorders in males followed by mood and substance use disorders [1] 
  • Only a quarter of men said they would seek help from a mental health professional if they were experiencing personal or emotional problems [1]. 
  • Findings further suggests the strong relationships between loneliness and experiences of depression and suicidality among Australian men [1]. 
  • Nine Australians die every day by suicide and 75% of those are male [2] 

Men face a range of barriers to getting help when experiencing a mental health problem. In particular, the stigma around men’s mental health and toxic masculinity ideals prevent men from seeking the support they need. This can include embarrassment to reach out and have a conversation about how they are feeling, fear of looking ‘weak’ or not ‘manly’ enough or not wanting to show signs of weakness. However, conformity to such norms can lead to difficulty in expressing emotions which can increase the risk of depressive symptoms and can worsen mental health problems, wellbeing, and social functioning. 

So, how can we create a mentally and emotionally healthy environment for men in social settings, workplace, and at home? 

In social settings: 
  • Create an environment where men are comfortable and can be vulnerable to open up about their mental health. Communication styles differ for men and women. Men are more likely to open up and be vulnerable when they are ‘shoulder to shoulder’. To engage in an effective conversation with a mate, initiate the conversation when you are walking, watching the footy, or doing an activity that is more relaxed and takes the pressure off the topic. 
  • Social connectivity. Hanging out with friends and building social connections have been proven to lower anxiety and depression, boost mood, and help to build meaningful and trusting relationships. If you have a mate that you haven’t seen in a while, reach out and organise a catch-up face-to-face. 
In the workplace: 
  • Normalise men’s engagement in seeking support and encourage them to use mental health support services such as EAP, and take a proactive approach to their mental health and wellbeing. 
  • Facilitate workplace activities where men can build meaningful social connections and relationships with colleagues. 
  • Ensure staff are well equipped with the knowledge skills and confidence to reach out and have conversations with men around mental health and notice the signs that they might not be travelling well. 
At home: 
  • Discuss mental health with family and create a safe space where feelings are valid and normalised. 
  • Engage in family dinner with household members. This is a great way to build stronger relationships, share struggles, and support each other. 
  • If you are a father, role model being open and vulnerable to your children, so they learn that it is healthy to share their feelings, and express their emotions. 

Want to know more about Men’s Mental Health? Check out the CFCH Group’s co-founder and Director, Tony Bradford, in his TedX talk for Men’s mental health. https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6867301889235652608 


References:

[1] https://aifs.gov.au/media-releases/depression-suicidality-and-loneliness-mental-health-and-australian-men 

[2] https://www.lifeline.org.au/resources/data-and-statistics/