THE stereotypical Australian man—the bloke— is changing, however the way of dealing with mental and physical health issues are still having a detrimental effect.
This is according to WA-based Men’s Advisory Network’s (MAN) President Dean Dyer, who says one of the main reasons why men lead in numerous health issues statistics is the lack of effective communication and support from other males.
“We need to improve on getting men informed about the serious problems of not helping each other out, we aren’t doing ourselves any favors,” he says.
Mr Dyer says the culture of judgmental ‘blokes giving each other a hard time’ when they hint a health problem can further inhibit their communication and ability to seek further help, even within their own family.
He adds that issues arise when men suppress emotions by avoiding problems, turning to junk food, drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, rather than feeling able to communicate with their male peers.
“In the modern day society there is the negative message sent out to men who are having issues, we need to turn that around and into a positive remark,” he says.
With the support of the WA Department of Health, MAN have released The Blokes’ Book covering all sides of men’s health support—including family relationships, stress, family, and drug and alcohol problems.
Even though The Blokes’ Book and MAN deal predominantly with men’s health, Mr Dyer says the support problem has the potential to have a flow-on effect to the wider community and individual families.
“If men are unhappy and miserable, and can’t deal with their boss or manager for example, they may go home and take that out on their family,” he says referring to the less apparent issues of mental stress.
Although men’s view of one another is changing for the better, some social and environmental aspects of society—the way men are still generally brought up ‘to tough it out’—can have an effect on ongoing mental and physical health problems.
The Health of Australian Males report (2011) found that males have a consistently lower life expectancy than females (4.6 years), while the WA Department of Health showed that last year 74 per cent of males aged 16 and over were considered overweight or obese.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also has men leading the statistics of Australia’s other serious health issues—including suicide (especially high in rural areas), lung cancer, disease of the liver and ischaemic heart disease.
The blokes’ book is available online at http://www.man.org.au/Default.aspx?TabId=166