MEN’S HEALTH FORUM IN IRELAND
Reading this manual can seriously improve your health
Not too long ago, we were unaware of the full extent of men’s poor health and the specific health issues that they face. However, in recent years, a broad range of research has highlighted the health difficulties which confront local lads. This shows that they experience a disproportionate burden of ill-health and die too young …
• Men die, on average, four and a half years younger than women do.
• Males have higher death rates than women for all of the leading causes of death.
• Poor lifestyles are responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases.
• Late presentation to health services leads to a large number of problems becoming untreatable …
So, is there any good news? … Well, the simple answer is ‘yes’. As the first country in the world to have a National Men’s Health Policy (which has recently been succeeded by the ‘Healthy Ireland – Men’ Action Plan), Ireland leads the way in international men’s health.
Despite this, evidence clearly shows that there are still many challenges to be faced when seeking to improve the health of men. However, it also highlights that men’s health can be improved in many significant ways – if we make the right choices. Men, themselves, have a key role to play in this process, but they require support, encouragement and opportunities to succeed. Men’s Health Week (MHW) in June each year (www.mhfi.org/mhw/about-mhw.html) offers an ideal opportunity to kick-start this action.
To support MHW the Men’s Health Forum in Ireland (www.mhfi.org) produces a free, 32 page Man Manual. This booklet (titled ‘Challenges and Choices’) opens with the statement: ‘WARNING … READING THIS MANUAL CAN SERIOUSLY IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH’. It then goes on to issue a series of simple and practical challenges to improve the reader’s health:
1. Order a soft drink the next time you’re in the pub.
2. Try some fruit or vegetables you’ve never tasted before or think you don’t like.
3. Make at least one journey by foot or bicycle instead of going by car.
4. If you’re under 25 and sexually active, get yourself checked for chlamydia.
5. Stressed out? … Walk away from tense situations before you blow up.
6. Find out about the opening hours at your local GP’s surgery.
7. Get your blood pressure checked within the next two weeks.
8. Get a friend to quit smoking with you – and get advice on how to stop.
9. Show a doctor that lump, strange-shaped mole, or rash that’s bothering you.
10. If you get backache, don’t let it become a pain in the ass. Get it sorted.
Each of these challenges is accompanied by a reason why it is important to take action, a menu of possible choices available, and signposting to sources of help and advice. Most importantly, it provides this information in a straightforward, step-by-step, humorous and commonsense way. After all, it was written by a man in Ireland!
Since it was first produced in 2014, 79,200 hard copies of this publication have been given out to men throughout the island. In these days of ‘e-reader books’, that would probably make it an all-time ‘best seller’ in Easons! To see what it’s all about, download yourself a copy at: www.mhfi.org/challenges2017.pdf