Men’s health matters: Five conversation starters

Share This Post

1. The short straw

Depending on your perspective, men did seem to draw the short straw, when it comes to life span. A boy born in 2019 has a life expectancy of 80.7 years while a girl born at the same time can expect to live another four years on average.

The good news is this gap is narrowing – fifty years ago, women were expected to live 6.6 years longer than men.

An Australian male aged 65 today can expect to live another 20 years or so which is ahead of many other developed countries including Japan, Sweden, Singapore, USA, UK and France.

Each male has their own unique life trajectory which is dependent on multiple determinants of physical, psychological and social health. The good news is that a range of preventative measures can be taken to live longer.

2. Been to the doctor lately?

One of the most important preventative health steps a man can take is to speak up if something doesn’t feel or seem right.

Research conducted suggests men can be surprisingly bad at facing up to their health and are less likely to visit a health professional than women, even when experiencing serious health problems.

An ongoing Australian study on male health found that 61% of men don’t have regular health check-ups. This reluctance may help explain the higher rates of serious illness and shorter life span of men.

While everyone’s health is different, there are certain trends specific to men. For men, the majority of deaths are the result of accidents, cancer (e.g. lung, prostate), coronary heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which is a group of lung conditions. These are also reflected in life insurance industry claims data.

Around 75% of men are overweight or obese – a characteristic commonly identified to be related to a range of chronic health conditions. This number is even higher in men aged 55 to 64 (84%). Achieving, and maintaining a healthy weight can be hard but shedding even a few kilos can have positive effects.

3. Addressing male suicide

Alongside a range of health conditions, suicide is another leading cause of death in men. Australian men are now three times more likely to die by suicide than women – six men die by suicide every day.

It’s a hugely complex area but underlying factors can include a perceived loss of masculinity, chronic health concerns and social disconnection. Sometimes mental health may be a factor, but not all the time.

One study found that stressful life events including serious family conflict, trouble finding a job, legal troubles, loss of property, relationship break-up and serious physical injury increased this risk. Sometimes the feelings associated with being vulnerable can be too overwhelming for men and may make it even more difficult to seek help.

Movember, the men’s charity that raises awareness on a range of men’s health issues, has lots of practical information on how to have these difficult, but potentially lifesaving conversations.

4. Digging deeper

The rising level of mental health insurance claims amongst men tells us that something is up. Something is going on under the surface…so we should dig a little deeper. Everyone has their own personal story which underlies their overall wellbeing. How they grew up, what has happened to them in their lives, where it hurts. We need to get better at listening to the story of men.

We know it may be difficult for some men to seek professional help, so as a community – and as individuals – let’s make sure we help provide the social support needed.

Employment status and working conditions are strongly connected to male wellbeing. The ongoing male study mentioned earlier has also found that the greater the number of job stressors men are exposed to (like job insecurity, low job control, high job demands and unfair pay), the lower their overall wellbeing.

This is significant in light of the amount of time spent at work, and highlights the importance of addressing psychosocial safety in the work environment.

5. Rising up: Strength and resilience

A strength-based approach to male health looks at the holistic factors that support male wellbeing. This includes considering their physical, emotional, social, psychological, spiritual and cultural environments. What protective factors do men have at their disposal to support wellbeing?

Helping someone to think about their strengths can put a different perspective on a problem. If someone has managed to overcome a similar situation before, it’s likely they can do it again.

Researchers have also discovered that social and cultural connections are absolutely vital to maintaining health during stressful times. Likewise, social connections, access to their children and support from like-minded people are really important protective factors in men’s lives.

Wealthness Pty Ltd ABN 13 231 248 112  [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia]  is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL No. 236523. It is important to be aware that Better Financial Planning Australia is not authorised by Infocus to provide advice relating to credit services or property advice. Infocus is not responsible for any advice outside of the scope of this authorisation and should you wish to act on any of this general information, please first seek professional financial advice.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia will endeavour to update the website as needed. However, information can change without notice and Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the website, including information provided by third parties, at any time.

This information is of a general nature only and neither represents nor is intended to be specific advice on any particular matter. Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd strongly suggests that no person should act specifically on the basis of the information contained herein but should seek appropriate professional advice based upon their own personal circumstances. Although we consider the sources for this material reliable, no warranty is given and no liability is accepted for any statement or opinion or for any error or omission.

Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia does not give any warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of information which is contained in this website. Except insofar as any liability under statute cannot be excluded, Wealthness Pty Ltd t/as Better Financial Planning Australia and its employees do not accept any liability for any error or omission on this website or for any resulting loss or damage suffered by the recipient or any other person.

Wealthness Pty Ltd (ACN 613 313 250) [t/a Better Financial Planning Australia] Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL Licence No. 236523.

Source: Clearview
JULY 6, 2020

More To Explore


Our Podcast ‘Sharing More Than The Sheets’ is designed to help Australians like you, DO BETTER, BE BETTER and FEEL BETTER with your finances.