Movember is coming to an end and those moustaches should be reaching glorious lengths by now. This year, the men’s health awareness month has encouraged men to either grow a moustache, Move for Movember by running or walking 60km over the month, host a ‘mo-ment’, or raise money and awareness in any other way they choose. With men’s mental and physical health put under increased pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic and the current financial climate, Movember has never been more important.
Focussing on the too-often taboo subjects of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, Movember raises the cold, stark fact that many men are needlessly dying too young.
According to the Movember Foundation:
- 75% of suicides in the UK are men.
- Globally, a man dies every minute due to suicide.
- Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men.
- Testicular cancer is highly treatable and often cured if diagnosed and treated early enough.
- If detected early, 98% of men with prostate cancer will survive beyond 5 years.
- But find it late and prostrate survival rates beyond 5 years drop to 26%.
So why is men’s health in such bad shape? There’s a combination of issues:
- Workplace stress is rising.
- As are the pressures of everyday life.
- Women are more likely to go to a health professional if they are feeling the effects of ill health.
- Women are also more likely to talk through both physical and mental issues, which is (in most cases) the defining factor in getting help.
- Men are generally less aware of health issues and symptoms in the first place, or if they do notice them, more likely to brush symptoms under the carpet - especially if it’s an embarrassing issue.
- Societal expectations – the idea that men have to behave in a certain way and fulfil traditional gender roles (breadwinner, strong, successful, in control etc), can negatively impact on men’s mental health. This also makes men less likely to reach out for support with the perceived (and completely untrue) connotations of being weak or a failure.
- And Covid-19 has added to the burden. The added financial and mental health issues caused by coronavirus, plus issues accessing medical facilities during the pandemic, has made the melting pot of men’s health worse.
Figures from the Mental Health Foundation show around 1 in 8 men in England have experienced a common mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Furthermore:
- Three times as many men as women die by suicide.
- Men aged 40-49 have the highest suicide rates in the UK.
- Men report lower levels of life satisfaction than women according to the Government’s national wellbeing survey.
- Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women: only 36% of referrals to NHS talking therapies are for men.
Around 98% of the plumbing and heating industry is made up of men, making it vitally important that organisations such as the CIPHE support the aims and messaging of the Movember Foundation.
So, what can you do? The Movember Foundation has the following tips:
- Stay connected to people – even if it can only be via text, phone or zoom if coronavirus measures mean it cannot be face to face. Check in regularly with friends and family and make sure you make ‘man time’ to catch up with friends.
- Stay active – move more, get outside and do more of what makes you feel good.
- Be open – talk about the big things you’d normally hide, be there to listen to others having a hard time too.
- Know the numbers - At 50, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s right for you to have a PSA test. If you are black or have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you should be having this conversation at 45. Don’t use the pandemic as an excuse not to see your GP!
- Know your nuts – yup, it really does mean that. Know what’s normal for you, check for lumps and if anything changes, don’t ignore it, go to the doctor.
Mental health links
Find out more about Movember
Find out more about the Mental health Foundation
If you’re feeling low, there’s help on hand. Call the Construction Industry Helpline – a confidential line open 24/7 – on 0345 605 1956. You can also download the Construction Industry Helpline app from the App Store or Google Play.
Get mental health advice and more from the Lighthouse Club charity at www.lighthouseclub.org
Call Samaritans free anytime from any phone on 116 123. Find more advice at www.samaritans.org
If you’re a manager and want to improve your approach to mental health support, visit www.buildingmentalhealth.net