International Men’s Day – “Better Health For Men + Boys”

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value” – Albert Einstein

On the 19th of November, Australia and over 80 other countries will host the annual international men’s day to celebrate and reflect on the men in our lives whether it be a father, brother, uncle, nephew, husband or friend and to express appreciation for their efforts and contribution to our lives and society as a whole.

It has been found that men are less likely to see treatment for depression, and this can intensify the associated personal and financial problems they experience.  Melbourne psychologist Shaun Delaney, author of the study Divorce and the experience of Australian men, says “research has consistently found that men avoid or delay seeking help for physical and mental health problems”.  A common issue encountered by Delaney in his interviews with men was a feel of despair over the loss of financial security and a pessimism about future projects.

Stephen Carbone from the mental health advocacy group Beyond Blue, says despite increasing awareness about depression, men very often do not recognise that they have a mental health condition, or if they do are less likely to reach out.  “There is a reluctance to seek help, so they struggle on without help and put themselves more at risk,” Carbone says.  The symptoms of depression can include persistent flat moods, pessimism, hopelessness about the future, irritability, anger, diminished confidence and lack of motivation.  “All of these conditions affect your day-to-day life including your ability to do your work to the best of your ability,” Carbone says.

As a result, men’s mental health and financial security can deteriorate, making it increasingly difficult for men to function in their day-to-day life.  The additional burden of financial stress can have serious long-term effects on their health, finances, and future prospects, including their plans for retirement.  One participant of Shaun Delaney’s study said: “As a man after 28 years of marriage I don’t have the financial means or my youth to start again.  My future is bleak, and I foresee that I will be in the workforce until I die.”

In addition, financial stress and insecurity can lead to harmful activities like gambling.  When the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation conducted a comparative study of men and women gamblers in Victoria in 2014, it was found that men have higher participation rates than women in most forms, including informal betting, gaming machines, table games, race betting, sports betting and Lotto.  Men also spend more on average in a year on their man gambling activities than women, $2,959 vs $664.  Gambling can exacerbate existing mental health issues and lead to sever financial stress and insecurity for these men and their families.

“It’s the nature of mental health conditions that they don’t allow you to be at your best, at your full potential,” Carbone says.  Understanding more about depression and its causes can help to empower men to overcome their illness, and it supports them in improving their lives, personal finances, and future prospects for themselves and their families.  In addition, a sound financial plan that incorporates a long-term approach to saving, investing, and achieving financial security can help to improve future prospects and lead to better outcomes.  The best time to start a new and improved financial plan is now.  It is never too late to start and sometimes it can make all the difference to someone’s outlook on life and their own financial situation.

International Men’s Day main purpose is to show the positive value men bring to the world encouraging the practical side of male identity as well as highlighting the social issues that men and boys face.  The 2020 theme is “Better health for men and boys”, focusing on mental health, improving gender relations, gender equality, and highlighting of positive male role models.

THE STATS:

November 19th is also a day to raise awareness to the challenges that men face in life – especially in relation to the international male suicide rate.  Some key statistics on social issues men face that need awareness are:

  • Men make up an average of six out of every eight suicides every day in Australia, nearly double the national road toll
  • One in eight men will experience depression and one in five men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives
  • Men are 32% less likely than woman to visit a health professional
  • Men are twice as likely to die of drug or alcohol abuse
  • Men make up 94% of all workplace fatalities and have an average life expectancy almost five years less than women

None of these issues are unique to men specifically or are being used to try and diminish similar issues woman face but it is important to see how overrepresented men are in some of these areas.

GOOD EMPLOYEE HEALTH IS GOOD FOR BUSINESS:

It is also important to be aware about the direct impact mental health can have on a business and workplace.  Making up roughly 54% of the workforce it is important for men that workplaces encourage prioritising their own health and wellbeing and promote the message that there is nothing wrong with looking after yourself or admitting that something is wrong.

Studies show that more than half of men suffer from work-related stress; with 13% of them citing their stress as unmanageable.  Workplaces are working towards helping de-stigmatise discussing mental health and acknowledge normal feelings of sadness or anxiety especially during this year with so much uncertainty due to the global pandemic.  This will not only improve peoples’ engagement in their overall wellness but significantly boost the health, wellbeing, and peace of mind of the workforce.  The benefits towards the business have been shown to improve morale and productivity, decreased sick leave, lower turnover, and increased loyalty.

If you or someone you know needs support and would like to talk to one of our team members, our doors are always open and you are always welcome to contact us!  We have also listed a number of crisis support services that can be reached 24 hours a day:

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800;

MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636