Today alone, more than four men will tragically take their own lives in Australia, and another 22 will attempt to. This year, more than 25,000 men will die of cancer, more than 14,000 will die of causes related to diabetes, and cardiovascular disease will claim more than 35,000 lives.
But don’t worry. Because last week was Men’s Health Week.
It seems incredible that an issue as overwhelmingly large and hugely important as men’s health gets just a seven-day slot, which started last Monday.
And look, I’m in favour of Men’s Health Week, because it’s a lot better than nothing. But honestly, it’s like trying to tackle global warming by turning your heaters off.
I’m sorry, but a week is not enough. It’s not even close. And the problem is that the whole small-target approach to such a massive problem is just typical of the way we approach men’s health in general – we just don’t take it seriously enough.
On the one hand, that’s the fault of men, who are going to pay Men’s Health Week about as much attention as they pay to the other 51 special weeks every year.
Men don’t go to the doctor enough, we don’t seek medical help soon enough – even when we’re worried that we might be getting sick – and we definitely don’t take the issue of our own mental health seriously enough.
The mental-health problems of men – and their horrific consequences, like the fact that 75 per cent of all suicide victims are men – are vast enough to justify a month of awareness on their own. Suicide is, in fact, the leading cause of death for men in this country aged 15 to 44, and is more than double the national road toll.
Men’s health is a huge and important issue and one that deserves to be taken seriously, and given the kind of focused approach that we’ve previously given to eradicating diseases like polio and measles. Unfortunately, it’s too big to be tacked with a vaccine, or a by a week of debating key issues.
We need to get men to take their health seriously, to stop thinking they’re too tough, or too busy, to seek help from a doctor. The fact is, there’s so much to do, so many problems to tackle, that every week should be Men’s Health Week. And Women’s Health Week. And Kid’s Health Week.
Seven days doesn’t do it justice.
By Adam MacDougall, Men’s Health
Adam MacDougall is exclusively managed by The Fordham Company