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
Another common claim is that men are reluctant to seek help or talk about their physical and mental health. While it is certainly true that men have less access to a broad range of support services than women, it’s important to avoid gender stereotypes when explaining men’s health issues.
Taking an evidence-based approach reveals a more nuanced picture. For example, while working-age men claim fewer Medicare services than women; men and women over 65 use a similar number of services and men over 75 use more services. Experience also shows that when support services are offered in a male-friendly way, the number of men who get help increases.
Finally, while helping men change their individual health behaviours can make a difference, they only account for around 30% of poor health. If we want to create a healthier future, we need to take collective action to address the underlying social and structural factors that shape our physical and mental health throughout life.
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