Men's Health week is 10th - 16th June. This year they are looking at numbers - the statistics that relate to men and all areas of their health. Men's Health Forum are trying to raise awareness over the week of the key things that men need to know and what they can do about their health. Here are a few reasons why I'm encouraging you to talk to the men in your life about their health this week.
Last November, I shared about how we need to change the language we use when people are having a down moment such as 'Man up' or 'Pull yourself together'. Language shapes our culture and stereo-typically men are portrayed as stoic, closed off individuals. It's not often that men are seen to open up about some of the challenges they are experiencing and being honest with their thoughts & feelings. If we are to support men best, we need to know what's going on in their lives and be aware of some of the issues that they could face.
I want to challenge myself and you. If you find yourself thinking or saying similar "man up" phrases to yourself or others, stop and challenge yourself. Could you give 5 minutes to stop and ask how they're really doing and listen? Or, it could be you notice a mate acting different to normal, and encourage them to open up rather than shy away from the honest answer.
Common Health Issues
Alongside encouraging everyone to seek when they need it, even if it's a little thing, there are some health issues that are more prevalent in the male population. Knowing what to look out for may help in bringing it up in conversation or spotting it if they mention anything.
This is the most common cancer in men with 1 in 8 diagnosed. It's common in older men (60+), but as with all things, could happen at any age. Symptoms can be mild or not apparent, so it's important to encourage a check up or at least know your risk factor. This, along with testicular cancer, can be hard to bring up if you don't know the person well, but we should all be able to encourage people to see their GP if they have recurring symptoms just to check.
75% of suicides in the UK are males, making it the largest cause of death for men under 50. Research shows that men are less likely to seek treatment for mental health difficulties and may use unhelpful coping strategies to deal with them. As a Church, we are able to offer a wide range of support to men, not just therapy. Church members may have links to all sorts of groups that can provide a healthy outlet and community. But we also need to make Church a place where stories are shared and people are open about their experiences, so that others feel able to do the same.
'A Royal Team Talk' was a great watch, hearing football stars, some fans and Prince William talk about their experiences with mental health on the BBC.
As a nation, we can become a little obsessed by the latest diets and workout trends. This can be unhelpful as they may not always create sustainable habits for a healthy lifestyle. With increasingly busy lives and convenient fast foods options available, it's difficult to stop and notice if we're looking after ourselves well. A 37 inch waist or higher can massively increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and aches & pains. Men are more likely to consume more alcohol and cigarettes, which can negatively impact on health. This can be really difficult to challenge with men that you know and encourage them to make sustainable positive changes. Starting small with 1 thing is one of the easiest and best option - don't try and do too much in one go.
There is lots of support out there if you're struggling to know where to start. The main thing is just to talk. Be willing to be open with someone and listen to them. From there you can pray and signpost to further support if needed, but also hold each other accountable. If you want anymore information on the above issues, have a look at these sites:
CALM | NHS | Cancer Research | MIND | Live Well