Men’s Health Week is fast approaching and is an important date on the ACA calendar. Celebrated between 12-18 June 2023, this week-long event has a number of key purposes, and these are anchored around both advocating and raising awareness for men’s health as well as their greater wellbeing.
Men’s Health Week is celebrated around the world and presents an opportunity to focus on the unique health challenges that are faced by men of all ages and to encourage men to take meaningful, and often necessary steps forward to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
In Australia, the event is organised by the Centre for Male Health at Western Sydney University. Men’s Health Week is incredibly important as it not just increases the overall public awareness of men’s mental health in professional workplace settings, but also encourages men to be comfortable to talk about their own health with colleagues, family, and friends. This year’s theme set out by the Australian Men’s Health Forum is ‘Healthy Habits,’ highlighting the importance of setting smaller actions that men can do on a regular basis to maintain and improve their physical health and wellbeing.
A huge component of Men’s Health Week is also taking the time to pause and reflect upon the unique health challenges facing men in their lives. Unfortunately, research conducted in Australia shows that up to two thirds of men who are struggling or in a crisis, don’t feel confident or empowered to ask for help and men also have a four times higher risk of dying by suicide . These are two staggering figures and highlight the work that needs to be done to allow men to feel comfortable to speak up with regards to their health and wellbeing.
Dr David Cahill, ACA President says “Shining a light on any particular health issue helps to focus attention and raise awareness of it. This naturally then leads to the question: ‘How can I/we help?’ In the case of men, the first and possibly very powerful step is to simply open the conversation. Men often tend to bottle their problems up, even to the point of it being a badge of honour. Unfortunately, this approach leads to worse outcomes and they and their families suffer the consequences. I particularly like the theme this year of Healthy Habits. It fits beautifully with chiropractic thinking on being proactive and finding health, which can bring a new perspective to comfortably sit beside the traditional focus on treating illness. I encourage all ACA chiropractors to get involved this Men’s Health Week and be part of raising awareness for such an important cause.”
The other important objective to Men’s Health Week is to also increase health professionals’ awareness of men’s health and wellbeing issues and to increase their ability to work more effectively with men and boys. By educating medical, healthcare and welfare professionals about men’s health and the challenges that are often faced, we can ensure there is not only sufficient support and compassion in this area – but that health practitioners can feel empowered to give advice and provide support where needed.
In addition, Men’s Health Week provides a clear opportunity for health organisations, whether that be public, private, non for profit, or volunteer to work together to develop resources and practical initiatives that can make a valuable difference to the health of Australian men nationwide.
Improving men’s and boy’s health and wellbeing is certainly not a ‘one size fits all approach’ and as a result, Men’s Health Week provides us all with a wonderful opportunity to consider these different needs as well as consider a more comprehensive approach. For instance, men from different age groups have different their own distinct health needs from elderly men to teenage boys. Another prime example of this is by considering the special needs of men who at times can be marginalised from mainstream services, including (but not limited to) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, non-heterosexual men, men from non-English speaking backgrounds, and homeless men.
Celebrating and acknowledging Men’s Health Week is an important step for us all, especially as healthcare practitioners. By taking part in and celebrating Men’s Health Week we can all help raise awareness about the importance of men’s health and encourage men, from all walks of life, to prioritise their health and wellbeing, and feel comfortable to reach out for support.
R U Ok, Looking Out For Your Mates This Men’s Health Week, March 14 2022, accessed 12/4/2023, https://www.ruok.org.au/mens-health-week