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Mending masculinity

Why illness is not weakness

THE AUSTRALIAN Bureau of Statistics states that men have an average life expectancy of 78 years old, around five years less than women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men can expect to live around 17 years less than that.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for men living in rural and remote areas, health issues can be exacerbated because of location, work and lifestyle and compounded by barriers to accessing those services. The AIHW also acknowledged that women in the same areas have similar and specific health needs.

During the month of November, men all over the world will grow moustaches in an attempt to raise awareness and money for men’s health issues.

After beginning in Australia seven years ago the initiators, the Movember Foundation, now run campaigns all over the world. University of Adelaide Department of Medicine Associate Professor Gary Wittert told the Movember Foundation that men suffer higher death rates from nearly all non-sex specific leading causes of death.

“Heart disease and cancer occur more frequently in males than in females at all ages, and until very old age, men have the overwhelming majority of accidents and injuries,” he said.

According to the Movember Foundation, men access health services less frequently than women and when they do visit the doctor, it is typically when their illness is established, thereby denying themselves the chance of early detection and treatment of common diseases.

The Foundation, which in Australia specifically focuses on prostate cancer and depression in men, said the result of that is a lack of awareness around men’s health with many men not fully understanding the risks they face.

“Through increased education and awareness, the Movember Foundation aims to enable men to identify issues, seek effective treatments and look out for one another for years to come,” they said.

In our western context it is easy just to look at men’s health with a medical eye, but it is important to look at all aspects of men’s health be they physical, emotional or even spiritual.