Men’s Health Week for 2020 has passed and with it the overriding message that more conversations are needed between men and boys to encourage wellbeing.
Queensland Mental Health Commission Ivan Frkovic, who took part in the Australian Men’s Health Forum Week 1 Men’s Health Connected Session ‘Male Suicide – shaping policy and practice’ on June 3 – said it was important for men to build social networks, join community groups and make an effort to spend time together to combat mental ill-health.
With suicide the 10th leading cause of death for men, Mr Frkovic underlined the importance of taking a gendered approach to addressing men’s social and emotional health and wellbeing.
Queensland is leading the way in taking a gendered approach to suicide prevention, its Every Life: The Queensland Suicide Prevention Plan outlines specific male-targeted measures.
“This includes working with leaders men’s health, such as the AMHF, to understand and respond to men’s distress and suicidality,” he said.
“At-risk cohorts include men in construction, rural and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, men who identify as gay or bisexual, veterans, older men and men experiencing relationship breakdown.
“We need to focus on offering the right help to men at the right time, rather than expecting men to seek help.
“This is why programs that take suicide prevention and wellbeing to spaces that men are in – construction, sports and so on – are of particular importance.”
AMHF is the peak men's health body who organised the Men’s Health Connected summit for the entire month of June to address a range of major topics surrounding men and boys’ health. AMHF CEO Glen Poole warned that the COVID-19 pandemic would magnify challenges facing males, and “some men would fall through the cracks.”
“We know having good work, regular income and strong relationships are the key things that keep men mentally healthy,” he said.
“Many of those things are under strain now and there is a risk that some men will begin to lean on unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or other drugs.”
Glen called on people to look out for blokes who might not be doing so well and to just “get in the practise of maintaining contact with those people you care about.”
“And it doesn’t need to be talking, it can just be spending time with someone. “
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