Australia is one of the world’s healthiest societies, yet men die six years younger than women on average. Men and boys in Australia also account for:
- 92% of workplace deaths
- 4 out of 5 heart disease deaths (under 65)
- 3 out 4 of suicides
- 3 out 4 road deaths
- 2 out of 3 violent deaths
In 2014-2015, we spent more than $160B on our health. It is vital that our politicians ensure this money is invested in ways that help create a healthier future for men and boys, and a healthier future for everyone. When it comes to taking care of their health, it is often said that men are their own worst enemies. We know, for example, that men experience:
- 71% of disease linked to alcohol
- 60% of disease linked to smoking
- 60% of disease linked to body mass
- 56% of disease due to lack of exercise
- 72% of disease linked to environmental factors like workplace hazards
While helping men change their individual health behaviours can make a difference, these behaviours only account for around 30% of poor health. If we want to improve men and boys’ health, we need to take collective action to address the underlying social and structural factors that shape our physical and mental health throughout life.
Some of the key social factors that shape our health include our education; our experiences of childhood and fatherhood; our social connections; our working lives and living conditions and our access to male-friendly services.
Research suggests that helping men make better use of health services is one way to improve their health. Experience shows that the best way to achieve this outcome is by taking a gender inclusive approach that delivers a balance of male-friendly and female-friendly services and programs. This applies not only to the health sector, but any sector concerned with the lives and health of men and boys.
The Federal Government’s Draft 2020-2030 Men’s Health Strategy places a strong focus on developing male-friendly health services. What’s missing is a focus on the social factors that shape men’s health such as relationships; fatherhood; boys’ education; men’s working lives and the importance of our social connections.
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