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Mens Health Week 2020: Restoring the Balance

International Mens Health Week (MHW) is 15th to 21st June and this year’s theme is “Restoring the Balance: Be Part of the Solution”.  

Celebrated internationally, the overall aims of MHW are to:

  • Heighten awareness of preventable health problems for males of all ages.
  • Support men & boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices / activities.
  • Encourage early detection & treatment of health difficulties in males.

 

But why the need for a Men’s Health Week?

Males constitute almost 50% of the population on the island of Ireland. MHW aims to have a gender lens focused upon their specific health needs.  Research shows that these men experience a disproportionate burden of ill-health and die too young.

  • On the island of Ireland, men die almost four years younger than women do.
  • Male death rates are higher than females in almost all leading causes of death and at all ages.
  • Men’s poorer lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases.
  • Late presentation to health services can lead to a large number of problems becoming untreatable.

Although many of these conditions are preventable, their prevalence amongst men may, in fact, rise in the future. 

Mens Health Week during a Pandemic

Men’s Health Week 2020 also takes place against a backdrop of the Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic.  Worldwide, the virus has caused uncertainty, disruption and a sense of fear for many. For others, it has had  devastating consequences.  But it appears to have a major and disproportionate impact upon men.  So, these are challenging times.

Despite this, the pandemic has brought out the best side of males – as the majority have answered the call and helped ‘flatten the curve’. Many have stepped in to provide practical help to others, to home-school children, strengthen community spirit, show positive leadership, help to keep essential services running, or protect vulnerable people.  We should celebrate this contribution.

Throughout the week, everyone is asked to ‘BE PART OF THE SOLUTION’ and to do something realistic and practical – no matter how small – to help to RESTORE SOME BALANCE and stability in everyone’s lives.  Rarely has this been more needed! 

So, are you up for the challenge? …

Please use the links below to find out everything that you need to know about MHW 2020 …

 

Would you like to HEAR about Men’s Health Week 2020 (the why, when, who, where and what), rather than have to READ about it? …  If so, click on the play button below to listen to Lorcan Brennan (Men’s Development Network) speaking to Colin Fowler (Men’s Health Forum in Ireland) about the week:

Why focus upon ‘Restoring the Balance’?
Not too long ago, we were unaware of the full extent of men’s poor health status and the specific health issues that they must deal with.  However, this is no longer the case.  In recent years, a broad range of research has highlighted the health challenges which face men in Ireland and further afield.  For example …

Although the health of men in Ireland is poor, it can be improved in many significant ways.  A wide range of innovative and positive work has already taken place to support the health needs of men and boys: Ireland was the first country in the world to have a National Men’s Health Policy which has now been succeeded by the Healthy Ireland – Men Action Plan; the ‘Engage’ Men’s Health Training Programme has influenced how services and structures support males; pioneering approaches have been developed and tested which provide models for improving men’s health; new men’s health / support groups are evolving across the island of Ireland …  Much has been achieved, but there is still room for improvement.

Of course, men, themselves, need to play a central role in taking control of their health and wellbeing.  But men’s health is not just an issue for individual men.  While it is crucial for men to take responsibility for looking after themselves, their health can often be determined by other factors outside of their personal control.  Thus, there is also a need for policy-makers, service providers, and society as a whole to recognise the role that they need to play, and to do something practical about it.  This will require everyone to focus attention upon the men and boys around us.

What makes 2020 different?

2020 has been an exceptional year in many ways.  As the island of Ireland emerges from, what might be, the first wave of COVID-19, individuals across the country are trying to re-build their lives, relationships, jobs, finances, physical health, emotional resilience, connections, routines etc.  Some people are still living with trauma and bereavement.  Others are having to re-focus their priorities and to find new ways of living.  Everyone’s mental health has been impacted to some degree, and there is a need to find some new form of stable, realistic and relevant equilibrium – at least in the short-term.  However, as these have been almost unprecedented times, this process is likely to be slow, gradual and incremental.

This is why the theme chosen for Men’s Health Week 2020 is ‘Restoring the Balance’.  To make this happen, everyone needs to ‘Be Part of the Solution’.

The Impact of COVID-19 Upon Men
The Coronavirus / COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact upon men.  While there is a broadly similar incidence and prevalence to women, men:

  • are faster at developing serious illness;
  • recover slower from the virus;
  • have a higher death rate.

There is also a broad range of mental health and social impacts upon men and the wider community which are a cause for concern.

To shine some light on this situation, the Engage National Men’s Health Training Programme invited Alan White, Emeritus Professor of Men’s Health, to present his insights into why this might be so via a one hour online webinar titled ‘Men and COVID-19’.  This took place on Wednesday 13th May 2020.  Alan gave a presentation on the current evidence, and there was an opportunity for the audience to ask questions afterwards.

You can view a video of the webinar below or, to see it on a full screen, visit: https://youtu.be/MGsP3IaQ5lg

Who can be involved in this week?
Men’s Health Week (MHW) gives everyone (health professionals, service providers, youth groups, sporting bodies, community organisations, employers, Churches, policy makers, family workers, pharmacists, academics, the media, parents, individuals …) an opportunity to encourage men and boys to take better care of their health and to seek help or treatment at an early stage.

Planning Group for Men’s Health Week 2020
Men’s Health Week (MHW) 2020 in Ireland has been planned by a broad range of partners who contributed to an inter-agency all-island Planning Group.  This body began meeting in November 2019, and will have ongoing communication up until the week itself.

The theme for this year’s MHW (i.e. ‘Restoring the Balance’) offered an opportunity for a very wide range of agencies to participate (via both face-to-face meetings and electronic communication), and the planning process for 2020 has drawn upon the insight, expertise, support and contacts of in

Mens Health Week on the island of Ireland is funded by the Health Service Executive’s Health Promotion and Improvement and the Public Health Agency.