Glen Poole, CEO of the Australian Men’s Health Forum, talks to Kevin Jones, editor of the Safety At Work Blog about the positive and negative impact that work can have on men’s health.
AMHF recently attended the ALP’s National Conference in Adelaide, to promote our new #Better4Men campaign which includes a focus on “Making Work Healthier For Men”.
During the conference, Poole was interviewed for the Safety At Work Blog podcast and told presenter, Kevin Jones, that positive working cultures can provide men with social connections, money, status and purpose.
“One in four blokes in Australia are socially isolated,” said Poole. “They don’t have the social connections to support them through life.
“Work can be really good for our health and well-being; not having work is generally really bad for our health.
“A lot of blokes spend more time at work than they do with their mates or their partner or their kids.”
But while 92 per cent of workplace deaths, 72 per cent of workplace illnesses and most compensation claims at work come from men, workplace safety has gone beyond physical illness and is also about mental well-being.
Poole said men were wary of seeking psychological help if they were struggling, believing they might be bypassed for promotion, or at risk of being kicked out in the next round of redundancies.
“What does work really well is training blokes to look out for their mates,” he said. “All the great workplace programs in terms of mental health, they train blokes how to look out for their mates and two things happen as a result. One, they are surrounded by blokes who know how to look out for mental well-being, and the other is, they’ve got some knowledge themselves so if they weren’t travelling so well they’ve now got a better understanding about their mental well-being.”
Poole said men who are least likely to get help for mental health issues are more likely to say, “work is the most important thing in my life,” and that employers needed to ensure men have a balance in their lives.
“People aren’t just workers, they also have relationships and families and work should be encouraging that, as much as they are encouraging hard work and productivity.”
Poole said he hoped all politicians from all parties were on board with supporting the 2020-2030 Men’s Health Strategy.
“Men in Australia die six years younger than women. There’s a health gap straight away we’d like to close,” he said.
“One of the luxuries of being a wealthier nation is we can put more focus into things like, ‘how can we make sure that all our population are living long, happy healthy lives?’
“It’s not just about going to the doctors or having checks for cancer – all of which are really important – it’s about the other stuff, the social factors that shape our health and well-being.
“It’s about our experiences of fatherhood, how we educate our boys, it’s about our relationships … if you lack social connection, if you’re socially isolated, it’s as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
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