Research shows that Australian men generally fare worse than women when it comes to health. Reasons for this are complex, but generally:
- while women often naturally talk with and seek advice from their social networks about physical and mental health issues, men are far less inclined to do so
- men are also more inclined to wait for a health problem to become serious before they seek out help and advice.
The role the workplace can play
Men’s core identity is often closely associated with their job, so work and work relationships play a very important role in the lives of working men.
Some industries and trades (such as construction, manufacturing and transport) commonly have a high proportion of male workers.
This makes these workplaces ideal places to raise awareness of specific men’s health issues and to support their workers employees to improve their health and wellbeing.
Bringing a health and wellbeing program to the workplace can make it easier for men to talk about their health and discuss issues that they may otherwise ignore.
A workplace that supports discussion around men’s issues, and encourages open and honest conversation among workers, will be more likely to inspire men to look after themselves
Humour can be a great way to make men feel comfortable about engaging in health-related conversation, but remember to take the issue itself seriously.
The following strategies may help you encourage the men in your workplace to start thinking about and improving health and wellbeing.
- If you know a man is experiencing a hard time, perhaps go for a walk, or talk while doing an activity. Many men prefer talking shoulder-to-shoulder, or while engaged in an activity, rather than face-to-face over a desk or coffee table. Make sure it’s in an informal, relaxed and private setting.
- Provide easy access to useful information (such as posters and brochures), so men can find contacts for services on their own, or through talking to a key worker or health and safety representative. See Resources below.
- Look for opportunities to bring specific health services to your workplace. This can help raise awareness and make it easier for men who need to see a health professional.
- Use Men’s Health Week (external link) to hold events and promote health issues and services.
Remember that not all men are alike, and that different groups of men in your workplace will have different needs and health, wellbeing and social issues.