To the men in our lives… it’s come to our attention that there are some areas in which men could take better care of yourselves. The truth is that men die 6 years earlier than women, and there is much that we can all do to help this statistic. While Movember may pique our interest each November and raise awareness of the need to act for better men’s health outcomes, improving men’s health isn’t just a once-a-year effort.
Rather, improving men’s health outcomes is a year-long - heck, lifelong effort - focusing on:
Helping men take charge of their health rather than burying their heads in the sand
Helping identify what to look out for; those signs and symptoms that aid in early detection and intervention
Breaking down barriers so it’s easy to take action for better health outcomes
Forming habits for better health (e.g. exercise, nutrition, sleep) so that they are lifelong routines
Breaking down attitudes and stigma around looking after one’s own health, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellbeing
Below, we break down some of the important statistics when it comes to Men’s Health, and if you’re especially interested in mental health be sure to grab a copy of our Men’s (Man)ual for Good Mental Health (scroll down!).
MEN’S physical HEALTH, mental health + WELLBEING
What does being male mean for physical health, mental health, and wellbeing? A look at some statistics on Australian males shines a light on the state of men’s health :
The leading causes of death amongst men are heart disease, trachea and lung cancer, and stroke.
Only 1 in 2 men enough exercise, yet 7 in 10 men are overweight or obese
1 in 2 men have experienced sexual difficulties in the past 12 months
Men are dying 6 years earlier than women
Mental health + Wellbeing
Nearly 1 in 2 men have experienced a mental health problem
Men were more likely to engage in risk-taking (drug and alcohol, risky driving)
Males experience twice the rate of substance use disorders compared to women (70% vs. 3.3%)
Men are less likely to seek help compared to women (28% vs. 41%)
One in 10 men experience postnatal depression, and around 1 in 20 experience depression during their partners’ pregnancy 
Men were three times more likely to die by suicide compared to women
men’s attitudes towards their health
A lot can be done when it comes to improving men’s health outcomes. The three main causes of death in men - heart disease, lung and trachea cancer, and stroke - have a significant lifestyle component and much can be done to lower risk of these diseases. Furthermore, when it comes to mental health, there are tips and tools that one can learn to improve mood and wellbeing.
Critically, when it comes to help-seeking, attitudes held by men potentially impact on awareness, intention, and action when it comes to managing their physical and mental health. Some of the challenges identified include [3,4]:
Barriers that impact on help-seeking include stigma (though feeling comfortable supporting others going through difficult times), a desire for control, not knowing how to start a conversation about mental health, a lack of support, and delaying taking action.
So where do men seek assistance from? The Internet where anonymity is afforded, family and friends (if they feel comfortable), their general practitioner (though trust in the relationship is important), seeing a mental health professional (often seen as being linked to ‘serious conditions’), and helplines.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE MEN’S PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH OUTCOMES?
As we’ve already highlighted, a lot can be done when it comes to improving men’s health outcomes. A simple outline is as such:
Get informed. Find out what is the current status of your health by going to see your GP. Get a thorough physical and mental health check up, so you know what you’re dealing with and what you can work on improving.
Get skilled up. Once you know the current status of your health and the areas you can work on improving, the next step is to get skilled up. Learn about what you have to do to manage your health (e.g. how frequent subsequent check ups need to be, what signs to monitor, learning about proper nutrition, how to shift a negative mindset)
Assemble your team. Don’t go all lone wolf on us… We wouldn’t think of an elite athlete who tries to manage all aspects of their performance as a hero. We’d just be scratching our heads as to why they wouldn’t utilise the best professionals available (e.g. coach, exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, dietitian, podiatrist, general practitioner, psychologist) to make maximum gains in minimal time.
Get social because connecting with others has a powerful impact on mood. That’s why we have RU OK Day each September.
Get over the stigma and negative attitudes when it comes to looking after yourself. It’s not indulgent but instead it’s an important responsibility to yourself and loved ones to stay healthy.
Shift your mindset because looking after your physical and mental health is a lifelong commitment. The health landscape changes with age, stage of life, new health diagnoses, daily commitments, significant life events and…just life in general! So understand that it’s not a set and forget approach, but one that needs regular monitoring and action.
And if Mental Health and Wellbeing are of particular interest to you, be sure to grab our Men’s (Man)ual for Good Mental Health below. It covers The Man Box (toxic masculinity, attitudes and stigma), the Anatomy of a Healthy Male Mindset, the Anatomy of a Healthy Male Body, and a Toolkit for Good Mental Health. You can get your hands on it here:
 Yousaf, O., Grunfeld, E.A., & Hunter, M.S. (2013). A systematic review of the factors associated with delays in medical and psychological help-seeking among men. Health Psychology Review, doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.840954