Men’s Health Week: Time For Your M.O.T.
Men’s Health Week was passed by Congress and signed into law in the US by President Clinton in 1994. In 2002, representatives from men’s health organisations met in Vienna at the 2nd World Men’s Health Congress and started International Men’s Health Week. It was created to raise awareness of preventable health problems, and encourage men to access information, services, and treatment they need to be healthier. Each week has a dedicated theme with last year focusing on ‘Mental Health in a Covid World’ and this year being ‘Time for your MOT’. This year’s theme aims to encourage men to take notice of their health and how they are feeling and use existing resources to check for any symptoms.
Over the past couple of years throughout the pandemic, GP visits fell, and health checks weren’t carried out which means there’s an even bigger reason to be keeping an eye on our bodies and minds.
- 36% of referrals for talking therapies are for men
- 40% of men said it would take thoughts of suicide or self-harm for them to seek help
- 87% of rough sleepers are men
- 76% of suicides in 2019 were men
- Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 (higher rates of suicide are also found amongst gay men, war veterans, and men from BAME backgrounds)
- 95% of the prison population are men, almost half of all prisoners have mental health issues
- 7% of men are dependent on alcohol, compared to 3.3% of women
- Men have a higher rate of workplace injuries
- Men tend to die younger than women, widows outnumber widowers by at least 3 to 1
Men were also disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Men were more likely to be working in jobs that couldn’t be done from home, increasing their risk of exposure. Similarly, men’s mental health was a cause for concern before the pandemic as lower numbers of men were seeking help for mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses.
What can employers do to help?
If they don’t feel comfortable going to the GP, the workplace can be a safe space for men to access resources and support. Employers can do a lot to help, even if its just recommending services and treatments and providing support to their employees. Below are a few things employers can implement in the workplace to support men’s health:
Encourage employees to set goals
Thinking about motivators can help you to focus on improving your health and stick to a goal. Encouraging employees to set SMART goals for their health and think about what habits they should develop to help them reach their goal. Getting many people involved and setting goals together can give people a sense of teamwork and support, making it more likely for them to stick it out and be successful.
Encourage visits to the doctor
Employers can encourage visits to the doctor for check ups and to get any tests done. Sending out reminders to employees to book visits or sharing details for specific resources and services is something they can be proactive on. Workplaces could also provide simple health checks for employees, to give them a baseline of their health and bring awareness to any potential areas of concern.
Remove stigma surrounding mental health
Statistics show men are less likely to seek help for their mental health, the workplace can be instrumental in supporting male employees with mental health struggles. Encouraging open and honest conversations around mental health and ensuring employees feel like they can and will be supported can make all the difference. Providing information on local resources and services, setting up workshops, or having regular 1 to 1s with employees are all examples of ways employers can show support.
Encourage healthy eating
Men are more likely to develop illnesses and diseases at a younger age than women, as well as more likely to be overweight. Workplaces can encourage employees to eat well and try and get their five a day in which is important for weight as well as managing diseases. Sharing recipes, offering free fruit, or having a cooking competition can encourage employees to make meals fun and change their perspective on food.
Stress is one of the most common causes of absences from work and can impact your health and behaviour in a multitude of ways. Employers can send reminders of remaining time off, encourage employees to take their full lunch breaks and promote a healthy work life balance. Getting to know workers and spotting signs of stress early on can help prevent burnout and give the chance to offer support to employees. Another way of reducing stress is by offering flexible working, allowing employees to book appointments and visit health services without worrying about taking time off from work or just completely putting it off.
Promote regular exercise
The workplace often isn’t the most active of environments, working in an office can mean employees are sat down almost all day which isn’t good for physical or mental health. Employers can encourage their workforce to get regular or daily exercise in a variety of ways and suggest things that would appeal to their male employees. Starting a sports group perhaps playing five-a-side or other team sports could be a good way of socialising and exercising outside of work. Offering a gym membership may be suitable for those who would rather exercise alone. Encouraging walks outside at lunches or doing a walk or marathon for charity could be a great way to incentivise people to start or continue exercising for a purpose.
With this year’s theme being ‘Time for your MOT’, Men’s Health Forum have put together a quick and easy DIY Man MOT you can give yourself at home. There is also an interactive manual named Man MOT and one for the mind, Man MOT for the Mind which aim to boost health and wellbeing. If you’re concerned about any symptoms see a GP or use NHS 111. We can all do our part to encourage the men we know to take care of themselves and do what we can to support them.