The Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) urging everyone to do something positive to start ‘restoring the balance’ in male health
Everyone - men, families, communities, service providers and policy makers - is being urged to ‘be part of the solution’ and to take action to improve the health of men and boys on the island of Ireland by ‘restoring the balance’ after COVID-19.
That’s the message from the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (MHFI) as International Men’s Health Week begins.
Running from Monday, June 15 to Sunday, June 21 (Father’s Day), this annual celebration aims to raise awareness of preventable health problems, support men and boys to live healthier lives, and encourage them to seek help or treatment early.
2020 has been an exceptional year. All aspects of life on the island of Ireland continue to be shaped by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, these are especially challenging times for males and, it appears, coronavirus is having a disproportionate impact upon men. Indeed, while there has been a broadly similar incidence and prevalence rate to women, men seem to: be faster at developing serious illness; recover slower from the virus; have a higher overall death rate.
Colin Fowler, Director of Operations for the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland, explained: “Coronavirus has had an impact at many levels. Individuals across Ireland are trying to re-build their physical health, emotional resilience, relationships, jobs, finances, connections and routines. There is a need to find some new form of equilibrium - at least in the short-term. Throughout Men’s Health Week, everyone is asked to 'be part of the solution' and to do what they can - no matter how small - to help to restore some balance and stability. Rarely has this been more needed.
"Anyone who has ever learned to ride a bike will appreciate that it's all about getting the balance right. Once this is mastered, anything is possible. However, to get the confidence to do this, you need the support and assistance of people around you that you can trust and rely on. This crucial relationship is captured really well in our Men’s Health Week poster which features a father and son - Chris and Ethan - from Belfast."
The organisers of Men’s Health Week are calling on everyone to work to create the right environment - as well as opportunities - to improve the health of local males. They have also offered ideas on how to support the week in their ‘Toolbox for Action’, which can be found HERE
Men and boys can get involved in the week by making the time to read the free ‘Man Manual’ which can be downloaded HERE and undertaking one or more of the ten practical and realistic challenges issued within it. This booklet comes with a simple warning: ‘Reading this Manual can seriously improve your health!’
Although a lot of progress has been made in recent years to improve men’s health across the island of Ireland, difficulties still remain. These include:
Local men die, on average, almost four years younger than women do.
Poor lifestyles (including smoking, drinking, diet and lack of exercise) are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases.
Males have higher death rates than women for almost all of the leading causes of death, and at all ages.
Men’s mental health needs are often not recognised or met.
Late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable ...
Speaking about the week, Fergal Fox, General Manager, HSE, Health and Wellbeing said: "These days it is more important than ever that we all actively look after our physical and mental health. The HSE, has a range of supports available for anyone looking to stop smoking, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less alcohol and manage their stress. Over the coming week, we will be reminding people how they can access these supports across our social media channels.
"While supports are available to all who need them, during this week we are particularly encouraging men to think about their health and what small changes they can make now that will positively impact their future health. For more information on any of the above topics, log on HERE”