News

Working towards improved health for men


Morgan Liotta


14/06/2019 2:31:30 PM

Men’s Health Week aims to raise more awareness of preventive health issues and promote early detection and management of disease among men and boys.

Stages of men's health
The RACGP offers a number of resources linked to men’s health.

A boy born in Australia today has a lower life expectancy than a girl born at the same time.
 
Men experience more illness, accidents and premature death than women, and current figures show that men take their own lives at more than three times the rate of women.
 
Latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) show a higher prevalence of the burden of disease among males. Males have more Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) than females for all age groups up to the age of 85 years, with 1.6 times the rate of fatal burden – 110 years of life lost per 1000, compared to 69 per 1000 for females.
 
Despite these figures, the AIHW also reports that from 2015–16, estimated health expenditures for males were considerably lower in most age groups, compared to females – emphasising the fact that men are less likely to access healthcare than women.
 
According to the AIHW, men’s lower levels of healthcare access is due to a number of factors – from geographical location, to some difficulty accepting physical and mental symptoms, and the stigma attached to asking for help. Of the eight in 10 males reported visiting a GP in the previous 12 months from 2015–16, the frequency of visits increased with age, but decreased with geographical remoteness.
 
Dr James Antoniadis is a GP and psychodynamic psychotherapist. He believes that encouraging more regular GP visits from men comes down to the type of communication between the patient and GP, and cementing a trusted relationship.
 
‘What GPs should look out for in men is a deficit of words for emotions,’ he previously told newsGP.
 
‘It’s important to really drill down into the language people use.’
 
Long-term support and treatment, rather than a ‘quick fix’ – particularly for mental health issues – would be more helpful, he said.

Helping to break the stigma of men asking for help starts with the initial communication, according to Dr Antoniadis, and he has seen various men’s health initiatives starting to make a difference with men opening up.
 
Men’s Health Week aims to raise more awareness of preventive health issues and promote early detection and management of disease among men and boys.
 
The initiative focuses on increasing male-friendly health services and encourages local communities and organisations to engage, such as offering free community exercise, sport events to foster connection between men and boys, and posters promoting male-friendly GPs in practices.
 
Another initiative gaining traction is the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA), which currently has almost 1000 Men’s Sheds nationwide and is recognised as one of the largest male-based community development organisations in Australia.
 
AMSA’s ‘Spanner in the Works’ campaign is a toolkit launched to members during Men’s Health Week, advocating for a proactive approach to positive health and wellbeing, as well as an annual check up with a local GP. 
 
‘Hopefully these sorts of programs might go some way towards giving people a sense that there’s more to masculinity than just silently carrying on,’ Dr Antoniadis said.
 
GP resources
The RACGP offers a number of resources linked to men’s health:



burden of disease men’s health week mental health



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