Some of the hardest conversations we can have are with the ones we love – especially when it comes to talking about mental and physical health. No one likes to admit when they are not living up to expectations (either set by society or by themselves) or are experiencing health issues. And, it can be humiliating, crippling and distressing to have to confide this information to others, especially those we hold in high regards or close to us.
Typically, women are more inclined…
To open up these types of conversations with friends and family early and seek support or medical advice sooner than men.
Yet, with 1 in 5 Australian men over 40 currently experiencing erection problems and 1 in 7 having problems with their prostate, it is far from uncommon. So why all the secrecy and what stops men from talking about these issues?
When it comes to topics like erectile dysfunction, depression or the risk of cancer, it is easy for men to “laugh it off” or refuse to comment in order to avoid seeming vulnerable, inferior and exposed. Yet, the statistics and research conducted around men’s health prove it is important that they can move past these fears and feel comfortable enough to open up a conversation about their health and wellbeing.
For this reason, Andrology Australia is promoting Men’s Health Week 11-17 June 2018…
To encourage all men to start a conversation about their health and wellbeing, be it emotional, mental or physical, with someone they trust. And, it is time women get involved and support the cause – this doesn’t just extend to asking someone close to them if they are “okay”, it’s about encouraging men to “check-in” with themselves, a man close to them or to seek medical advice early to prevent and reduce the risk of male-specific diseases.
In most cases, men will, in fact, talk about their health – but only if provided with the right environment to do so. That can mean being a good mate, partner or suggesting a health service that’s empathetic. And while they may feel a little uncomfortable or reserved about speaking to their partner (or close friend) about these sorts of conversations at first, in the home, behind closed doors, is often where these conversations are most effective.
Here are some suggestions to help break the silence and provide a pathway to engage in conversations at home about men’s health and wellness.
– Encourage regular visits to the GP. Lead by example by having regular check-ups for your own health (e.g. pap smears, iron levels checks, mammograms, skin cancer checks etc…). While men may not be seeing their GP for the same reasons, it will help normalise this routine and process.
– Be conscientious and ask how their day is going. Provide a ‘give and take’ environment where they don’t feel badgered into answering question but rather engaged.
– Be empathetic and listen, rather than make judgements or suggestions. While you may feel it’s important to have your say and provide them with advice, the truth is, you may not be able to understand exactly what they are experiencing – and it may act as a deterrent for some men. More often than not, it’s equally as effective to just listen and be a supportive shoulder – especially when you first start engaging in difficult conversations.
– Provide literature and website pages they can check out as an alternative to speaking to you: such as the Andrology Australia Website. Not only will this provide them with educated advice, it will also reduce some of the embarrassment and discomfort many feel when they have to openly talk about their personal health and feelings.
– Provide social proof to let men know it is socially acceptable and okay to talk about health problems (whether that’s physical or mental). There are a number of male celebrities who are outspoken and advocating for social causes around men’s health. For example, Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Warren Buffett and Allan Pease are all survivors of male-specific cancers and have been quite public about their health issue. In addition, there are celebrities like Ricky Gervais who are hard at work to normalise conversations about men’s health.
Simon von Saldern, CEO, Andrology Australia says it is healthy to talk and important to remind men in the community that they are not alone.
“We’re hoping this campaign will raise awareness about the importance of talking to someone around you and the huge benefit this can have on one’s health. We’ve developed a huge amount of free resources which are available now to support the campaign along with information that can be found on our website.”
For more information, visit this link.
The Andrology Australia program operates nationally and brings together health and education experts from across Australia to develop collaborative strategies to raise the awareness of male reproductive health disorders and their associations with chronic disease.
Latest posts by Jade Bentley (see all)
- Why women should converse with men about their health - June 14, 2018