The objectives of International Men’s Day include a focus on men’s health, improving gender relations, promoting gender equality, and highlighting positive male role models. The theme for 2017 is ‘Celebrate Men and Boys’. Recent World Health Organisation data shows that, globally, the male life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 69 years; for females, it was 74 years. Women on a worldwide basis live 5 years longer than men.
The November international men’s day is a significant date as it interfaces the popular ‘Movember’ charity event which raises awareness and funds for men’s health. November is an important month for raising awareness as there is a greater media emphasis on:
• How to prevent health problems for males of all ages
• Supporting men and boys to engage in healthier lifestyle choices/activities
• Encouraging the early detection and treatment of health difficulties in males.
Men’s health – mental and physical
The connection between physical and mental health works both ways. Physical illness not only leads to certain mood disorders, the opposite can also occur. While a depressed mood is thought to contribute to the development and progression of some medical illnesses, physical illness can also trigger or increase the risk of depression.
Many men say they are there for their friends when they need support, yet considerably fewer men are prepared to go to someone when they’re struggling themselves, bringing to life the need for those around men to take themselves off ‘mute’ and start the conversation.
Although the health of men in Ireland is improving it can be further improved in many significant ways. Work has already been done to support the health needs of men and boys, Ireland was the first country in the world to have a National Men’s Health Policy which has now been succeeded by the Healthy Ireland – Men Action Plan; the ‘Engage’. Men’s Health Training Programmes has influenced how services and structures support males and new innovative and pioneering initiatives have been developed by a range of organisations across the island which provide models for improving aspects of men’s health. Much has been achieved, but there is room for more.
Men’s health is not just an issue for individual men. While it is crucial for men to take responsibility for looking after themselves, their health can often be determined by other factors outside of their personal control. Thus, there is also a need for policy-makers, service providers, and society as a whole to recognise the role that they need to play, and to do something practical about it. This will require focusing our attention upon the ‘HIMs’ all around us.
International men’s day is important to celebrate as places its focus on that which unites men globally to help work towards shared objectives which are applied equally to men and boys irrespective of their age, ability, social background, ethnicity, gender identity, religious belief and relationship status.