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June 11th - 17th is International Men’s Health Week (IMHW), an annual holiday which raises awareness for Men’s health. Statistics show that men are more likely to die prematurely than women, with one in five men dying before the age of 65. One of the main causes of this seems to be a general reluctance of men to seek medical attention when it is needed. Men aged 20-40 are 50% less likely to go to their GP than women of the same age and are ultimately less likely to acknowledge illness. Not only are men more likely to face a string of health issues, they are also more likely to struggle with mental health issues without getting the help that they need. In 2016, male suicides in the UK accounted for 76% of all suicides in the UK.
Observed in several countries, Men’s Health Week focuses on health issues that men across the world encounter. It originated in 2002 when representatives from the world’s six leading men’s health organisations gathered in Austria, to create a campaign to increase awareness of male health issues around the world. The theme of IMHW changes each year, with this year focusing on raising awareness about Diabetes. This is an important topic for Men’s Health Week as this disease becomes present and can develop further complications in men in comparison to women.
IMHW also encourages the development of health services and policies for men and boys, helping them and their families to get the support they need. Most widely recognised by Australia, Canada, Europe and the US, IMHW is also working to bring reproductive and sexual health schemes to Africa, Asia and South America.
The importance of men’s health, both mental and physical, is widely overlooked by many countries’ health services as well as by most men themselves. Due to the way that society places pressure on men to be masculine and restrict their emotional expression, it can often feel to men that they are unable or not allowed to voice concerns about their mental or physical health.
As a result, many men and boys suffer in silence and do not seek resources or services that can provide them with the help they need. By promoting the importance of men’s health, this creates a more open conversation about serious issues, whilst raising awareness of these services. International Men’s Health Week is a way to ensure that men and boys also have the health services they need to live happy, healthier and ultimately, better lives.
By visiting the Men’s Health Forum, you can sign up to support the men’s health manifesto. You can join their online community where real discussion takes place about men’s health and how to improve it. You can also donate money or even raise it in organised fundraising runs.