Men's health initiatives scale back in face of coronavirus

In the past 24-hours a number of men's health initiatives have begun to scale back their programs in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

On Monday, the Male Health Network run by Ken McKenzie across the Hunter New England Local Health District region, cancelled all meetings. These included a bi-monthly network meeting and a popular annual forum and expo held during Men's Health Week in June. 

The Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium also announced that its annual symposium, to be held in Melbourne in May, had been cancelled. In an email to attendees organisers said:

"When there is opportunity for the Symposium to be held without risk to individual or public health, an announcement will be made. As the current environment remains in a state of uncertainty, we are not able to provide an estimate of when this might be."

Elsewhere, Blokepedia's planned Conversations That Matter evening event at the Balter Brewing Company on the Gold Coast, scheduled for Wednesday evening, was also cancelled for health and safety reasons. 

It's not only practitioner meetings and one-off public events that are being impacted. Men's peer support groups around the country have been reviewing their protocols with some time deciding to postpone face-to-face meetings in the short term.

Mr. Perfect, which hosts 25 regular BBQ meet-ups for men around Australia, has postponed its groups until further notice. In a statement on its Facebook page, the group said: 

"Mr. Perfect is all about connection. We bring men (mainly) together (physically at BBQs) to create communities for the betterment of their mental health and to reduce isolation.

"However, with the current Coronavirus “pandemic” there is so much uncertainty that we have to make the safety of our community our priority.Therefore as of today scheduled BBQs will be postponed for the foreseeable until we are told it is safe(r) to continue."

Meanwhile, many Men's Sheds, which play host to one of high risk populations (older men), have been seeking guidance and advice. The Australian Men's Sheds Association (AMSA) has published information to help those running sheds to decide how to respond to the pandemic. 

Some men's health initiatives are looking to technology to help plug the gap in service. 

Blokepedia plans to provide some additional resources over the coming weeks with tools and supports, which include it's new online resource - The Men's Health and Wellbeing Toolkit.

Meanwhile, Mr Perfect is planning to pilot on "online BBQ" adapting software it uses to host weekly online talks called "TRH - The Reconnection Hour". 

A spokesperson for Mr Perfect said: "Truthfully, we are not sure how many people we can bring together in one “stream” or if perhaps further down the track location-specific BBQ Hosts can hold their own for their local community or just chat virtually, but let’s give it a crack and see how we go."

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